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Helena Bonham Carter,
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Much of the Pakistani Hussein family has settled in London, striving for the riches promised by Thatcherism. Nasser and his right hand man, Salim, have a number of small businesses and they do whatever they need to make money, even if the activities are illegal. As such, Nasser and his immediate family live more than a comfortable lifestyle, and he flaunts his riches whenever he can. Meanwhile, his brother, alcoholic Ali, once a famous journalist in Pakistan, lives in a seedy flat with his son, Omar. Ali's life in London is not as lucrative in part because of his left leaning politics, which does not mesh with the ideals of Thatcherism. To help his brother, Nasser gives Omar a job doing menial labor. But Omar, with bigger plans, talks Nasser into letting him manage Nasser's run down laundrette. Omar seizes what he sees as an opportunity to make the laundrette a success, and employs an old friend, Johnny - who has been most recently running around with a gang of white punks - to help ... Written by
It bugs me that this movie is the "gay" movie, just like it bugs me when a movie with black people is labeled the "black" movie. What about Mafia movies? Are those for people who are "involved"? What about "Seven" I guess that's a cult classic for serial killers. Come on, a good movie is a good movie. Trust me I identified with Omar - and I'm a straight hispanic girl - probably more than I have with any other character in a movie. This movie is about homosexuality like Charlotte Gray is about hair dye.
This movie is definitely one of my favorites. It is a look a young man (a gorgeous Pakistani named Omar) who basically tries to balance being Pakistani and British at the same time. He wants to have a business and be successful, in that Western capitalist way, and yet he wants to be good to his family and his father in that sense of family loyalty that only those of us from other cultures really understand. Omar asks his uncle to tell stories about his family in Pakistan, yet he doesn't understand his people's language - Urdu, I believe it is. This is a little insight for our white friends about what us "in-betweens" have to go through. Too ethnic for the white people, too white for our own people. It's nice to show the ethnic people looking down on the poor whites, because we do, we look down on low class white people, we have our snobbery too. It may not be right, but it's the truth. It's nice to show the sort of affectionate annoyance Omar found his Papa and Nasser for trying to help him. White people see that as overbearing, something to "escape" from (like Tania, who was the "whitest" of them all) Ethnic people have a sense of humor about it, because we know it means love, and like Omar most of us just choose to quietly listen and ignore their advice rather than make a scene. Omar never makes a scene.
That's what Johnny represents I think, the part of us we keep to ourselves, our passions and desire and those things that are too special to share, kind of like a spiritual belief. It makes their love seem almost sacred because it's too special for them to bring out and expose to the criticism of less enlightened people. It's worth noting that it's Johnny who kisses Omar semi-openly in the street, and it's Omar who doesn't tell his family why he can't marry Tania. I dont think it's so much homophobia as it a cultural difference as to what should be kept private. I could sort of see Johnny in the future demaning Omar tell his family.
Their love scene is gorgeous. When you first see Johnny he seems so rough and coarse and low class, but as he begins to seduce Omar while Omar talks about the past he suddenly seems powerful and sophisticated and . . . and just to see them getting it on on the table. It's very sweet and tender with the frantic kissing and the champange, but my god is it hot.
This certainly is a romantic (and more importantly) positive movie where two men are in love yet have a real conflict between them, and obviously gay men are right to love that, but hey, it works for informing white people, making minorities laugh, British people who grew up during that time, showing idiot homophobes that gay people are just the same as everyone else, DDL fans. Don't just slap the gay label on it and dismiss it!
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