Friday, October 16, 2015

LGBT Film Review: My Beautiful Laundrette


Stephen Frears was at the forefront of the British cinematic revival of the mid-1980s, and the delightfully transgressive My Beautiful Laundrette is his greatest triumph of the period. Working from a richly layered script by Hanif Kureishi, who was soon to be an internationally renowned writer, Frears tells an uncommon love story that takes place between a young South London Pakistani man (Gordon Warnecke), who decides to open an upscale laundromat to make his family proud, and his childhood friend, a skinhead (Daniel Day-Lewis, in a breakthrough role) who volunteers to help make his dream a reality. This culture-clash comedy is also a subversive work of social realism that dares to address racism, homophobia, and sociopolitical marginalization in Margaret Thatcher’s England.

My Review:

At last, My Beautiful Laundrette is given the Criterion treatment, and here's why: more than a classic, it is practically a landmark of British LGBT cinema. It's a slice of life comedy/drama that's more than a story about two men who fall in love, but about Margret Thatcher's England of the 1980's. This period was melancholy, racist, political, and damned by classism/class discrimination. Director Stephen Frears is far from afraid of critically examining it through his camera lens. Everything about this movie feels so authentic and down to earth. And it's extremely character-driven: we have Omar (played by the gorgeous Gordon Warnecke), a young man who is a poor relation to a wealthy Pakistani family, his unscrupulous and amoral uncle, Uncle Nasser, who takes Omar into the family business, and the incredible Daniel Day-Lewis who flawlessly plays "Johnny," Omar's working class pal, lover, and boyfriend. The heart of the story is about Omar taking that old, broken down laundrette and turning it into a successful business. What's not to love about the underdog turning a dream into a reality? And what's not to really love about Omar and Johnny? Despite their differences, they gel, they're utterly adorable, and they sure are one attractive couple. This movie has it all: stand-out characters, a great love story, a few laughs, the "gay content" that was a big deal in the 80's is ridiculously tame and minimal now (two kisses, a lick on the neck, one steamy love scene, and one more kiss), but still sexy, and with all the political, cultural, and family drama, it's not surprising that My Beautiful Laundrette made an impact then, and it still does now.


  1. Wow, I've never heard of this movie, and I love Daniel Day Lewis. Definitely want to watch.

    1. Enjoy! I hope you'll like it as much as I do :).