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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
My Beautiful Laundrette and A Room with a View both opened in New York on the same day, March 7, 1986. Both movies featured Daniel Day-Lewis in prominent and very different roles: in A Room with a View, he played a repressed, snobbish Edwardian upperclassman, while in Laundrette, he played a lower-class gay ex-skinhead in love with an ambitious Pakistani businessman in Thatcher's London. When American critics saw Day-Lewis, who was then virtually unknown in the US, in two such different roles on the same day, many (including Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times and Vincent Canby of The New York Times) raved about the talent it must have taken him to play such vastly different characters. See more »
A perfect slice of Thatcherite Britain.....oh! And a fab gay romance..
A classic film in my book, My Beautiful Laundrette is the story of Omar, a young restless Asian man caring for his alcoholic father in Thatcherite London. Escape comes in the form of his uncles many and varied business ventures,...
Anyone who experienced anything of life in '80's Britain will recognise the craving for instant financial success. Similarly I am sure Asian viewers will recognise the struggles inherent in finding an identity in a country which is your home but which can never feel quite like your real home.
Omar dreams of success so works to achieve it...along the way he meets up with old school-friend Johnny, who has betrayed him by falling in with a group of neo-nazi's. Omar soon has Johnny working for him and his uncle. Turning the tables on him as he is made to rely on the very people he has been taught to hate. The chemistry between Omar and Johnny is palpable and their relationship handled totally matter-of-factly. About the only part of the film not trying to score any political points is the gay relationship. There is a "so-what" attitude and no-one comes out at any point. And why should they?
Tension in the film is far more the result of socio-economic and racial inequalities. The whole thing is handled with grace, charm and wit. Anyone remotely familier with British film in particular will note the starry casting of supporting roles, though Danial Day Lewis is - now - the biggest star of the show. Here he shows the real substance behind his fame - more so than in any other film of his seen to date. The cast is universally excellent and the unique shooting, pacing and dialogue, quite quite brilliant.
Some of the shots in this film could be used as a template for brilliance...An unexpected kiss in a dark alley is easily the most erotic single shot I have seen in a film.
Despite a few reviews I have read claiming otherwise, I don't believe you need to be gay or Asian to get something out of this picture. Living in Britain may help, though it's a lot less than essential.......
And hey! Wouldn't you love to throw your knickers into the washing machines of a neon-lit music-filled laudrette from heaven run by two insatiably young and energetic lovers?
Well I would anyway! Pass the detergent this way please!
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