My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) Poster

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A perfect slice of Thatcherite Britain.....oh! And a fab gay romance..
Nic-828 December 1998
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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What A Laundrette!
Chrysanthepop5 November 2008
'My Beautiful Laundrette' takes a look at the 80's local life within the Asian communities in England and between the British Southeast Asians and the British Caucasians. What I loved about this film is that it presents its themes without going overboard to explain or to resolve anything. When we see a relationship develop between Omar and Johnny, one would expect to see them get attacked for it and then expect a preachy message like gays have rights too but there is nothing like that. There are scenes where the British Asians are being humiliated but this too does not lead to a bloodbath of sorts. It is all downplayed and subtle. It's about the characters, rather than a social message (but that's there too).

'My Beautiful Laundrette' mainly centres around Omar and his relationship with Johnny. Hanif Kureishi is known for telling tales about unconventional relationships and I thought it was great that both characters were shown to be open about their relationships in spite of their background. I mean they weren't screaming from the roof or anything but these two individuals did not care what others would think concerning their relationships. Frears deserves full marks for telling the story in such a raw, real, humorous and coherent way. The humour too is subtle and dry and flows well through the story.

The renovated laundrette too plays a crucial role. It is a place of comfort for Omar and Johnny, kind of like a home they built and decorated. The customers are amused by the beauty of it. A fascinated Nasser dances with his girlfriend while the customers eagerly wait outside. Thus, it becomes a place of comfort for many.

The characters are well etched. Both their strength and fragility is well displayed by the actors. Daniel Day-Lewis and Gordon Warnecke are excellent as Johnny and Omar. Day-Lewis brilliantly brings out Johnny's vulnerable and passionate side while on the exterior he appears as a tough and scary guy. Likewise Warnecke too effectively portrays Omar's determination and passion. A charismatic Saeed Jaffrey is phenomenal as the cheerful helpful uncle who goes through his own transformation. Rita Wolf is wonderful as the daughter who's in search of her own identity. Roshan Seth is good as the whiny father. The rest of the cast do well.

Pretty much all the characters are in search of something except that Omar and Johnny find what they want and Nasser loses what he had. The film does not end by providing a solution for everyone. And that is one of the many brilliance of it as it reflects that everyone has their own life to deal with and questions will arise but life goes on and it is up to us to choose the answer.

Simply great.
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My Beautiful Daniel Day Lewis!
absinthe12323 August 2003
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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Not just a gay love story!
metalheadmichelle5 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This film works on a number of different levels. Firstly, there is the love affair between the two main characters, Omar and Johnny, brought to life by brilliant performances from both Gordon Warnecke and Daniel Day-Lewis. The audience remains mostly in the dark about the history shared by the lovers... were they lovers before their chance meeting and subsequent re-discovery or were they just friends as children and lovers as adults? Clearly, though, there has always been a close bond between the two which has remained in tact, even after Johnny had abandoned his friend to join a group of Neo-Nazis. This is where the real complexities of the story lie. The fact that Omar and Johnny embark on a gay love affair seems almost incidental. Rather, it is the power relations between the two that is important. Class, ethnicity, kinship and community are central in shaping the way in which each character perceives their role within the world. Thatcherism and the 'entrepreneurial spirit' has fuelled Omar's ambition to make something of himself in 80s Britain. Conversely, Johnny seems to have resigned himself to his downtrodden status since society has done nothing to help him, so why should he do anything for society? Thus, class is very much an issue here. Ethnicity, too, is key, as the roles of the downtrodden and oppressed seem to have been reversed, with the white, working-class Johnny being the 'victim' of the system rather than the Pakistani, middle-class Omar. Despite all of the differences, however, essentially it is their love for each other that keeps them together. There are occasions when Omar questions whether he and Johnny can really be together in the long-term, such as when he contemplates marriage, whilst Johnny seems to be subordinate, almost passive, towards Omar because of his love for him. Despite all of their differences they both seem to have a profound respect for one another, which will hopefully enable them to continue their relationship, although the ending is left rather open. The main thing when watching this is to view it not only as a gay love story. It also provides a snapshot of 80s Britain and an illustration of the fluidity of identity, and of the different life chances that people had, which is clearly still as relevant today as it was back then.
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Magic-realist masterpiece.
the red duchess7 December 2000
A rare instance of magic-realism that actually works in the cinema. The realism is a scrupulously observed portrait of 80s London, its people (entrepreneurs, drunks, racists, wide-boys), locales (dingy flats, delapidated laundrettes, murky car lots) and attitudes (strutting capitalism, dessicated liberalism, farcical extremism).

The magic comes from Frears' style, tweaking and heightening the real; from stylised scenes such as Omar's reuniting with Johnny; from some magical set-pieces, especially the opening of the laundrette, Omar and Johnny making love cut with Nasser and Rachel's waltz; from the clashing of an exotic, Oriental world in a determinedly materialist context.

Kureishi's script is occasionally heavy-handed, but sex is never far from his analyses of power and identity - Omar's crucial tirade against Johnny has a thrilling, Genet-esque frisson.
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Highly recommended, entertaining slice of real London life
LouE1515 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Hanif Kureishi's unique world is always fascinating, always challenging: a direct rebuttal to a world in which the "British" are something out of a 1950s time warp (forever white, middle-class, village-dwelling). But he's never been so on-point, so relevant, direct and just plain right as with his script for Stephen Frears' well-made "My Beautiful Laundrette".

Gordon Warnecke plays Omar, a young Pakistani Londoner needing a direction in life in 1980's Britain: time of Thatcher, of aspiration, accumulation. He may be young and good-looking, but he's penniless and without prospects. His failed intellectual father (the great Roshan Seth) delivers him to jaws of the lion, as it were, for the sake of giving him a future. The lion is his uncle (the also great Saeed Jaffrey), rich, successful, an all too literal product of Thatcher's Britain. Omar's world becomes divided between his father, his uncle and his unlikely, erstwhile friend and sometime NF supporter, punk dropout Johnny (an early Daniel Day Lewis).

The world of 'Sarf' London in the 80s is brilliantly depicted – from the feel of the streets right down to the fundamental, almost feudal divide between rich and poor. But it's also a very funny film, sharp and romantic. Neither Omar nor Johnny are meant to succeed in this particular world. But both find a way to defy the bounds set by those around them: what might I suppose be considered the ultimate Thatcherite success – that is, in defiance of the odds, by hook or crook.

Omar and Johnny become lovers - but it's entirely incidental; it can't be allowed to get in the way of business. Certainly it doesn't make them any more outcast than they were already. London has changed a lot. Johnny's kiss stolen from Omar on a dark street corner is one of the all time sexiest moments I can think of in a film, and I can see from other reviewers that I'm not alone. (Hardly necessary to add that you don't have to be gay to enjoy this film – any more than that you have to be a Londoner or British.)

Daniel Day Lewis has since made his way to superstardom; Gordon Warnecke inexplicably languishes in occasional British TV appearances today, as far as I can tell. But both actors are really believable in their roles, both playing complicated, real human characters, driven and held back by multiple forces.

Kureishi tells the searing, unapologetic truth always. With a great eye for character, he knows how to make what people really say, work dramatically. Check out his TV series "The Bhudda of Suburbia", if you can find it. Frears is one of the small handful of great British directors: check out his very funny "The Snapper".

Films like this helped shape my world as a teenager: a Brit classic.
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A Pleasant Surprise
raptors24 January 2006
We saw this movie when it was first released on the big screen. It just happen to start when we needed a movie to so we had no idea what to expect. What a pleasant surprise this film was. Daniel Day Lewis (in one of his earliest roles) stars with Gordon Warnecke in this unconventional love story. Warnecke plays young Omar, who is given the opprtunity to run his uncle's laundrette. He enlists the aid of his ex-lover, Johnny (played by Lewis) to get the business back on it's feet. The scene in the laundrette that includes Omar and Johnny in the foreground and Omar's uncle and his mistress in the background, is one of the most sensual celluloid scenes I ever scene.

If you are looking for something good and out of the ordinary, I would recommend this one.
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Politics, Sex, and Punk Rock
MartinInane6 June 2002
Want to see a side of London you won't get from any other director? Then watch My Beautiful Launderette... The film opens with a scene in which squatters are forcibly evicted from a derelict building. Londoner viewers will recognize this as a sad yet common event... Immediately, we are attuned to the political bent of the movie. Fortunately for that intent, the dialogue in the film is intelligently written (note: this will not appeal to the lowest common denominator -- it scores low on commercial appeal). Unfortunately, the often "stiff" delivery of that dialogue is a significant impediment. That said, Daniel Day Lewis lends a powerful presence to his role as the punk squatter, Johnny.

The climax of the film aptly integrates the various tensions in the film: political, sexual, and social. We're surprised with a love scene between Johnny and Omar which is well-paced, erotic, and genuine.
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No One Gets Killed
movietrail26 February 2007
It figures this movie was not made in the USA... If it was, then main gay characters would either have to get killed or at least decently commit, or try to commit, suicide, get castigated or openly persecuted or both for their sexuality, and of course there would have to be a gays-are-people-too sermon somewhere in there. In fact, in this movie, while the gays may not have it easy, neither does anyone else; while in fact the non-gays get much more s--t than our two gay heroes, who seem to playing everybody off of each other anyway. You keep expecting someone to burst in upon their smooching or harassing them on the street or some other such low-down thing, but no (and knowing this makes it so much more easy to watch the second time)! To the Hollywood-weaned watcher, the start is slow and you don't quite know which way things are going, but we are very naturally eased into the two guys' relationship. It's very sweet, Romeo and Jules-like stuff. And like other reviewers mention, it is also so natural and well- made (and carried so many other taboos) that gay seems barely to be the issue. It is not a happy ending for many of the main characters in the movie, but life goes on. Just like life actually does.
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Not my cup of tea, wife liked though
damittaja4 May 2013
I watched this movie because my wife wanted to see it. I didn't have very high expectations for it and I knew what the plot would be because I had read the IMDb summary. I've happened to watch some movies lately which have been way better than the ratings they've had but this one most definitely does not go into that bunch. The plot did go through following some weird script but the problem was that they probably had cut away a lot events that were not central. Scenes would end abruptly or jump to a totally different scene or atmosphere. It made the characters and events a tad too hard to follow. At many points during the movie I was baffled at why the characters did what they did. However, if the point was to depict the chaotic life of people living on the streets and how they supposedly don't behave rationally, this movie succeeded in that goal.

The movie is defined as comedy/drama/romance. There were a few funny things I laughed, I admit, but not nearly enough to warrant a comedy definition. Mostly the movie was drama and romance. The drama was OK, all the characters had problems with life and so on and they tried to cope with the difficult and unfair situations they encountered themselves in. The romance part...well, not my thing here. I guess the movie tried to be provocative and probably was back in 1985 when it was first released but now it was just a bit silly. There was this "dangerous love" element in it and it just didn't work out. The script was no good and the actors quite stiff.

Also, the sounds were horrible. I don't even know how you can fail with 80's music but this movie did just that.

If you are looking for a movie with such a love theme as this one I guess the movie will be OK for you as my wife informed me that the movie was OK but for me it was a pain to watch through.
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Deserves a much higher IMDb rating
miss_lady_ice-853-60870027 February 2013
Maybe it's the fact that the film's very British and very eighties but how can this possibly score 6.9 whereas tripe like Good Will Hunting gets 8? Sometimes I despair at the reviewers on here.

Anyway, back to the film. Omar (Gordon Warnecke) is a young Asian guy who goes to work for his Thatcherite uncle (Saeed Jaffrey). His ambition is to renovate his uncle's run-down laundrette. He gets in his white mate Johnny (Daniel Day Lewis) to give him a hand and the two guys fall in love.

My Beautiful Laundrette completely encapsulates the zeitgeist of 1980's Britain, tackling everything from racial tension, immigration, generation differences, class differences, Thatcherism and homosexuality. I say 'tackle'- it's presented but the viewer is allowed to make their own minds up. This is primarily a coming-of-age film and on that level it can appeal to everyone.

As for the arguments that you can only like this film if you fit into one of the criteria portrayed here or the period it was set in, they're completely ridiculous. So, we can only like Schindler's List if we're a Nazi or a Jew and were alive in the forties? Come on people. The only criteria I fit in with this film is that I live in Britain- not even London, where the film's set.

What a lot of people dislike about the film is that it portrays a lot of the tensions happening in Britain but it does so on a very human level. No character is just a victim of the state. It's a light romantic comedy that lets us see the violence and racism but doesn't linger, making it more powerful when things do happen.

As for the relationship between Omar and Johnny, it's portrayed very tenderly (and very sexily, though tasteful). What is rare for a 'gay film'- a label given to any film that has gay characters in- is that the characters aren't tortured over their sexuality or punished. It's just portrayed as a normal loving relationship and the two actors- both straight- are very convincing.

Now Daniel Day Lewis has bagged his third Oscar, breaking the record for Best Actor, how does he fare in a very early film in his career? I really enjoyed his performance- you can see there's something about him, even at this age. His facial structure is outstanding- he looks very striking. And there's none of the mannerisms you might expect from an actor destined to do well. He comes across as a fresh talent- which he was.
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multicultural and multisexual perspectives
didi-519 August 2003
Stephen Frears' film of Hanif Kureshi's script about the Pakistani and the NF punk who grew up as friends, and find themselves attracted to each other again. Gordon Warneke and Daniel Day-Lewis play the lovers in this intelligent movie which has a cheap British tinge but has some superb moments (Saeed Jaffrey as Warneke's uncle, ‘a professional businessman, not a professional Pakistani') within it.

Perhaps the longest-lasting image is the two boys in the back room of the launderette, splashing each other with water, and putting aside the political differences between them. Whether it truly makes its points about race and sexuality I'm not sure.
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A business deal melds immigrant and punk
lib-420 October 1998
For its time MBL was a break through movie. London is a very complicated place for colonials and for punks. As the friendship between the boys develops- complications arise. What I liked about this film was its unpretentiousness. You can hear and almost smell the various neighborhoods of London. And Daniel Day Lewis certainly showed his potential for the star he would become.
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Intelligent & aren't Johnny and Omar cute?
Boyo-229 October 1999
I like this movie very much, even if I don't know anything about British politics, the class struggle or how to run a business. I don't even know what the characters are talking about half the time, but its obvious that they know, so it doesn't matter. And for once its nice to see a gay relationship as part of the movie rather than the reason for the movie.
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Not what I'd expected, nor what I'd hoped for.
fudgepacker-1288328 December 2017
This film feels kind of sloppily put together and not thoroughly explored in terms of characters, themes, cultures, etc. I found it difficult to follow, with characters flitting about, making odd decisions, and the repercussions being suggested rather than explored. I felt like the homosexual themes, and the cultural struggles weren't well explored, and therefore the movie ended up being rather meaningless.
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" In this Damned Country, that we hate and love...."
tim-764-29185611 June 2012
So says Saeed Jaffrey, easily one of the most recognisable Indian actors, at the film's start and sets the tone for this early Film 4 offering from 1985 as the wheeler-dealer uncle, and who typified Thatcherism's era of entrepreneurial immigrants.

Radio Times awards a rare five stars for this provocative and ground- breaking film from the now hugely successful director, now, of Stephen Frears and of course, for Daniel Day Lewis, it might have been his last, presumably such a contentious issue inter-racial gay sex would have been seen (and still viewed as), had he not been both brave AND very good.

This was just Frear's second feature film and whilst today the production values lag, many of the scenes are (necessarily?) contrived and the acting variable, it still says a lot. Lest we forget, launderettes were actually in wide existence then, romanticised by jeans adverts and featuring regularly in TV soap Eastenders. If that last bit sounds pedantic, Eastenders itself was seen as ground-breaking and immensely popular, with ratings in the 10s of millions.

Saeed's hypocritical (he has a white mistress) Nasser only hands over the laundrette to his nephew (Omar) because he's too lazy to run it himself and it's a thorn in his side. Omar, being one of Thatcher's mass army of 3 million unemployed takes to the challenge and equally unemployed white, former National Front member Johnny (Day-Lewis), a schoolfriend of Omar's get drafted in to help refit the run-down laundrette and to turn it into a Palace full of washing machines.

As you can imagine, Johnny's past friends find much to dislike about the company he now keeps, especially as he's been to prison for his past activities and now is not only only cohorting with the Front's seen enemy but having unbridled, active sex with one who is the same sex. Issues around the pressure for Omar to get married, by arrangement are very relevant, both as in being Pakistani and homosexual.

For my money, there are just too many small characters, doing little things that we never see again; they do not contribute to the film and if anything, dissolve its strengths. I'm also not keen on Gordon Warnecke's (Omar) performance, his monosyllabic recital of his lines show no depth. Omar may actually have spoken like that but it fails to convince.

The romance element is boosted by the way that the refurbished laundrette is to be launched as a dreamy magical palace, with a razzle- dazzle showbiz look and can be seen as the aspiration for people who have little to make a life for themselves.

I first saw My Beautiful Laundrette about when it was released and knew friends in the gay community - and have watched the DVD a couple of times since. Those friends saw it more of a championing beacon to their cause and lifestyle and less of a political and economic barometer. Almost no such films were made almost thirty years ago and whilst I'm sure many did just see it as a pro-gay drama, that it was (and remains) a good film is a huge bonus.
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He'll go to college
Noir-It-All8 February 2006
"He'll (Omar) go to college and study. He must. We all must. So we can see clearly who is doing what to whom." This is the view of Poppa, Omar's father. This bedridden man is an ex-journalist from Pakistan who has lived to see his wife throw herself in front of the trains that rattle incessantly outside his flat and his own students march past with National Front. To top it off, his younger brother, Nasser, who carried his typewriter when they were boys back in Pakistan, has become the "Sardou of South London," a big enough cheese to give his own son a failed laundrette to run. "Government grant." But, Uncle Nasser has a chink in his armor, too: will his relationship with his mistress, Rachel, last as long as that with his wife? Both brothers look to a union between Omar and Tania, yep, Nasser's daughter, as the key to the future of their band of Pakistani immigrants in a land that doesn't want them. Will these energetic offspring comply with their plans? Omar seems closer to the randy and remorseful Johnny than anyone. Smart cookie that she is, Tania packs her belongings in her Princess suitcase and...Everyone has a decision to make in this fascinating sociological study of Thatcherite England. Wonder what everyone is doing now?
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This is a difficult movie to love because all the characters are so difficult to like.
MartinHafer17 December 2013
This movie is quintessentially 1980s Britain. The look, the music, the people and the love of money--all stereotypes of the 80s. However, what is NOT the essence of the 80s is that the film is about Pakistanis who live in the UK and are becoming wealthy at the expense of everything else--this is unique to this film. What is also very unique is that later in the film there is a gay subplot--something that came as a bit of a surprise as homosexuality wasn't often talked about in the 80s--at least not compared to today.

The film is about a young and very money-hungry man, Omar. And, to help him earn his fortune, he goes to work for his even more money-hungry uncle. The uncle, either to test him or to punish him, gives him the unenviable job of running a crappy laundromat. And, through some very underhanded means, Omar and his friend Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis) make the place a success. But, this is only at the midway point in the film--what's next? Well, see it is it sounds like your sort of thing.

While I appreciated the risks the film took and its unusual plot, I found the movie pretty awful. No one was the least bit likable and I just didn't care about any of these soulless jerks. As social commentary, the film does work--as entertainment, it doesn't.
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1980's London, that revolution
Zeech23 April 1999
While a revolution was going on in the UK, one that Hanif said was one of turning upside down social values, and making acceptable and normal believes that previously had been seen as 'American', and not a good thing ('money, ambition, money, working in the grey area, more money'). It was happening for real, and while many writers took the usual stance of opposition (which I suppose was once radical and fresh 20 years before), Hanif stepped up with his Polycultural Perspective..And What A Breath of Fresh Air It Was!!! MBL has immigrants in the motherland, in all their flavours. Not to give away the plot, but colonials coming to the any country often had/have a political stance and/or a merchant mentality, both of which are played out in this movie. The first generation then deal and resolve this in their own lives (easing the tension where necessary, with a little help from Daniel), and what better setting than 1980's London, when squatting was a plenty (that is the famous Bonnington Square you see in the movie), Housing Associations, Community Arts, UB40 discounts and other things of the past were just getting axed. Our young boys, go through their days against this backdrop. It should ring with New York folks, because of the issues of immigration, and cultural contrasts. As for the sex scene, so what...It flows so natural, and come on macho men out there, we all know or were one of those very testy,testes type guys who played HARD as some form of homo erotic ritual.
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Really good and kinda abstract
snowyprecipice26 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Starring a very young and dashing Daniel Day-Lewis and an relatively unknown but charming Gordon Warnecke, this is a movie set in the 1980s in the UK and deals with the issues of that time. It's a very subtle film that keeps you pondering what the characters are thinking and why they do the things they do. The two leads are very good-looking (together, too) and share a certain chemistry that's very at ease and comfortable, much like their relationship. No budding romance, they kind of just meld together and deal with the things that happen in the film.

Mostly it deals with race issues and subtle homophobia. Omar (Warnecke) is smart and rather cunning, trying to make the business his uncle gives him successful. He employs a childhood friend and street punk (who he hasn't seen since he left school), Johnny (Day-Lewis) to help him run the business and deal with the riff-raff. The two have to deal with the expectations of Omar's family and the snide remarks Johnny's street "friends" make about him working for a Paki.

(Also, some people who watched the film got confused about Tania's role in all this?? I thought it was obvious. She made advances on Omar but didn't get any reaction. Omar gets pressured to ask for her hand in marriage from his family, but nothing really comes of it. Johnny gets jealous and goes gallivanting with Tania to make Omar jealous. But all this happens in a very quiet way i.e. their intentions aren't clear unless you think about it. In the end Tania realizes they only have eyes for each other and she was kind of a pawn in their plans)

I can't help but add that the two leads are super hot together. I like the secondary and tertiary characters too. The film feels very real and believable. Kind of slice of life but bigger.
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'My Beautiful Laundrette' is one film you won't soon forget.
bryank-0484411 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Stephen Frears is one of those directors with an amazing body of work, although most people wouldn't be able to tell you anything he ever directed. With films like 'The Grifters', and 'Dangerous Liasons', you can already tell he knows what he's doing behind the camera. He is more known for the iconic John Cusack film 'High Fidelity', the recent award winning film 'Philomena', or even 'Dirty Pretty Things'. Needless to say, this is a quite the impressive list of films, all having very different qualities and tones.

But one thing remains constant here, which is Frear's uncanny ability to film his characters so well, that they stay in our lives forever. Well, that and tell an amazing story, no matter how big or small it is. One of Frear's first films was called 'My Beautiful Laundrette', which came out 30 years ago, and was originally made for television, but later converted to a feature film. Currently, the movie has a rare 100% rating still on Rotten Tomatoes and was even nominated for a sole Oscar for Best Screenplay, but lost out to Woody Allen at the time.

In addition to this success, this film marked one of the first films for the multi Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis, and no, he didn't win an Oscar here. 'My Beautiful Laundrette' centers around a young Pakistani man named Omar (Gordon Warnecke), living in south London during the height of Margaret Thatcher's reign of England. Omar's father wants him to go to university to get a good education and a great job, rather than working dead end jobs, however Omar takes a shining to his uncle Nasser (Saeed Jaffrey), who runs a few businesses, but isn't the best person to look up to, due to his infidelity. Uncle Nasser offers Omar to run a local laundry mat he owns and restore it to make a decent profit.

As Omar is working at the laundry mat, he comes across an old friend he hasn't seen in years named Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis), a local skinhead now and part of a gang. The two instantly reconnect and hit it off and form a passionate relationship. Omar even has Johnny help with fixing up and running the laundry mat, much to the disrespect of Johnny's fellow gang members and Nasser's business associate, who happens to be a drug runner. It's a simple story really, but it's also a very honest and convincing portrayal of two friends and lovers in a time, where it wasn't really permitted, due to the social and political views of government and the people.

This story that tackles homosexuality, racism, and opposing political views is actually told through a light-hearted voice. Even though there is a bit of violence in the movie, it is often comical and heart warming, due to the phenomenal relationship between Johnny and Omar. I also believe that Frears wanted to showcase not only what race, religion, and sexual preference did to one another in the form of treating others with respect or lack thereof, but also the financial situations of people of this time, that allowed them to discriminate against their fellow neighbors.

It's an amazing, yet simple story, one that would be hard to replicate in today's world. Daniel Day-Lewis is of course excellent in his role, and his relationship with Warnecke is completely believable. It's a shame those two weren't nominated for acting awards. 'My Beautiful Laundrette' is one film you won't soon forget.
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Kureishi at his best
faziners12 May 2000
Johnny and Omar live in a world of multiple cogenerating, coexisting, modifying, negating, enforcing and enhancing forms of discrimination -- racism, sexism, groupism, homophobia, cultural elitism, snobbery, reverse colonialism, neocolonialism and fascism -- which they successfully grapple and topple in the form of their launderette with the power of economic enterprise. These squabbling goblins are left to each others excesses as economic success lifts them up and out of these, but many questions remain: will they remain; would others succeed; what does luck have to do with it? Kureshi has pissed off all groups who find themselves part of this smashing satire, prime among them the identity conscious confused second/third generation Subcontinental British kids, the same contingency that staunchly supported the Rushdie fatwa. Brilliant and stupendously enjoyable.
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Divided between two worlds...
moonspinner5527 May 2011
Gordon Warnecke plays an ambitious Pakistani youth in South London who uses his entrepreneur uncle's shady contacts to help build up the business establishment his uncle put him in charge of: a shabby laundromat. Warnecke's partner is his childhood pal (a very green Daniel Day-Lewis), who has since become one of the white street toughs who roam the area, looking for trouble. The whites--fascists who look down on the Pakistanis as subservient--don't see that the "Pakis" are far more willing to raise their standards of living, which causes turmoil for the partner (employed at something for the very first time) who is torn between his two loyalties. Calling the young men at the heart of the story 'lovers' is a bit of a stretch; director Stephen Frears casually engages the characters in a sexual after-hours relationship, which is frisky if a bit tentative (and self-conscious). The adults are far more interesting anyway, with Saeed Jaffrey giving a beautifully understated performance as the happily rapacious uncle who wants to be treated like a king. Frears, with a good sense of these characters, manages to create a world that is gritty and surreal at the same time; still, he gets the film off to such a slipshod start that many viewers might not have the patience to allow the story to build. It does, but slowly. Originally intended for British television, the film won over film festival audiences and was distributed internationally, eventually receiving an Academy Award nomination for Hanif Kureishi's (quite) original screenplay. ** from ****
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Life in 1985
Bel Ludovic27 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
The 1980s were not a vintage era for film - nor, by the looks of this pioneering gem, a great time for race relations, either. That's what this film is about - that, and the main credo of the time: making money. What it's rather not about is (spoiler) the homosexual nature of the relationship between the main protagonist, Omar, and his former school friend, Johnny. The two meet after a while and Omar gives Johnny a job in his new, beautiful launderette. This film bravely featured the two men kissing and enjoying intimacy throughout the film, tenderly portrayed and extraordinarily brave during the AIDS-hysterical homophobic 1980s.

And yet this relationship in itself is almost superfluous compared to the film's other main themes. My Beautiful Launderette encapsulates with eerie veracity the South London of 1985, with the immigrants that inhabit it at a crucial moral crossroads that perfectly reflects the early 80s gloom Britain was just leaving behind and the late 80s boom it was beginning to glimpse; Omar's ill father speaks bitterly of the country and of the government, of being shafted by both, and of wanting to return to his homeland, while Omar's all-embracing uncle sees their homeland as `sodomised by religion' and Britain a `beautiful place' where money can be made, the making of money all-important to progressing in British society at the time. `Get the champagne and let's drink to Thatcher!' he announces at one point. And it's not long before his uncle's desire to make money and to make 'it' spread to the increasingly sharp-suited Omar, who parades absurdly around his neon-lit launderette, which has unwittingly become the centre of the community. But Johnny's violent, fascist former friends care not for his new company, and evoke a past which casts a shadow over his relationship with Omar.

My Beautiful Launderette is about love, violence, entrepreneurship, hope, and hopelessness, community, race, class and, of course, some extremely bad hairdos. This is a cracking film, not necessarily because of the casting, acting, directing or even the story, although all are good, but because of its value as a document of a moment in time. How long ago it all seems - and thank goodness for that.
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making it in Thatcher's England
mjneu5913 December 2010
This colorful slice of lowbrow English life has many things working in its favor: character, ingenuity, humor, and (the essential asset for such a modest production) unpredictability. What it doesn't have is a budget, making the film look and sound like a cheap made-for-TV movie, hardly surprising since it was, in fact, produced for British television (a remarkably permissive institution, by American network standards at the time). But a well-written script doesn't (fortunately) need to cost an arm and a leg, and the perceptive screenplay by Hanif Kureishi has a lot on its mind, tossing off social, sexual, and political commentary with subtle insight and brazen wit. It may seem as if his story, about an unemployed (and otherwise unmotivated) young Pakistani and his amiable Anglo-Punk boyfriend, who conspire to beat the system by opening a trendy, upscale Laundromat using money stolen from a local crime syndicate, relies at times too heavily on idiosyncratic behavior and eccentric charm (other films should have such problems). But it all ends happily ever after, doubly so for director Stephan Frears and actor Daniel Day-Lewis, who were both catapulted into the international arena by the film's success.
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