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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 1 February 2015
I bought a genuine sealed copy of this 1980s film at a great price. Had not seen the film since the 80s: then, I remembered the gay love story as the stand out feature. Now, I saw the nasty racist skinheads looking for someone to kick in; the conflicting allegiances between different generations of Pakistani family members; the love story between a white man who has dabbled with racist thug groups and his old school mate, Omar; the entrepreneurism of Thatcher's Britain as personified in Omar and his get-ahead relatives: depression, alcoholism, failure of promise in some immigrants who couldn't hack life in Britain; and urban blight in South London. This is not a film to everyone;s taste: there's a lot of violence, and some would be unhappy with the gay love scenes: but if you haven't seen it for almost thirty years, or never seen it but want to know about Thatcher's run-down London, I urge you to watch it (again).
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on 30 July 2017
Having seen this film years ago it was a great pleasure viewing it again. The two young actors work extremely well together creating a wonderfully entertaining performance.
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on 30 May 2017
I found this to slow.
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on 18 July 2017
Great
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on 18 July 2017
Boring viewing
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on 4 April 2017
Quality lasts
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 March 2017
The pairing of writer Hanif Kureishi and director Stephen Frears combined impressively to produce this thematically rich and innovative take on Thatcher’s Britain in the 1980s. In terms of capturing the zeitgeist of the period, My Beautiful Laundrette pretty much has it all – (gay) sex, race (and racism), class, crime, politics and a perceptive dissection of capitalism. The film’s use of such an everyday functional location as a laundrette as a 'vehicle of capitalism’ is both amusing and apt (for the times) and called to my mind Bill Forsyth’s use of the ice cream industry as a basis for 'gang wars’ in Comfort And Joy. However, Kureishi and Frears’ film is a rather more complex affair, sociologically-speaking, focusing as it does on the gradual encroachment of more liberal (sexual, racial, political) values into a patriarchal 2nd/3rd generation Asian (Pakistani) culture. Period is also distinctively established by Frears (and cinematographer Oliver Stapleton) who give us squatter evictions, slam-door trains, plus 80s disco fashions and an evocative soundtrack by Stanley Myers and Hans Zimmer.

The film’s 'taboo-breaking’ credentials are established relatively early on as, first, Saeed Jaffrey’s entrepreneur, Nasser Ali, bonks with his mistress Shirley Anne Field’s Rachel, and, second, as Nasser’s nephew, Gordon Warnecke’s 'innocent' Omar, having been taken under his uncle’s wing in order to run the titular laundrette, plants a 'smacker’ on the lips of childhood friend, now 'business partner’ and ex-racist yobbo, Daniel Day-Lewis’ Johnny. Both Warnecke and Day-Lewis turn in impressive performances here as the surreptitious lovers, Omar looking to hide their relationship from his strict uncle (who is looking to 'marry off’ Omar) and Johnny fending off potentially threatening interest from his erstwhile 'gang pals’. One of the film’s standout (comic) sequences is that of the ceremonial opening (cutting the ribbon) of the refurbished, glamorous Powders laundrette to the tune of Puccini, with Nasser and Rachel waltzing, whilst, barely out of sight nearby, Omar and Johnny are coupling. The film’s other notable pairing and (initial) source of tension is that between Nasser’s arch-capitalist and his brother and erstwhile socialist, Roshan Seth’s 'Papa’. Both actors deliver superb (film-stealing) turns here, showcased in their touching reunion scene. Acting-wise, also worthy of mention is Rita Wolf’s feisty performance as Nasser’s rebellious, promiscuous daughter, Tania.

Certainly, in terms of portraying the social fabric of 1980s Britain, along with the likes of Mike Leigh’s Meantime and High Hopes, Frears and Kureishi’s film is one of the most authentic, hard-hitting and definitive exemplars.
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on 14 March 2017
good film
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VINE VOICEon 14 July 2017
I certainly lived through that period but only got around to watching this film in 2017. I didn't find it enjoyable - the scenery and the atmosphere seemed depressing, the comedy (very sporadic) seemed forced and phoney and the characters were devoid of interest to me. I thought it was the sort of film I would enjoy, but it wasn't. It gets an enthusiastic review from Leonard Maltin so I'm sure I'm in the minority. It's certainly interesting to see a realistic portrayal of a gay relationship in a film that was made in 1985 but I couldn't help thinking that was a gimmick to make the film more interesting. The depiction of feral predatory skinheads who attack without warning or provocation likewise seemed false and phoney. I didn't care about the fate of any of the characters and I'm not sure I was even supposed to. Maybe I'll give it another try one day.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 28 April 2013
My Beautiful Laundrette is one of the seminal films of the 80s and possibly one of the top half-dozen films ever made in Britain, I think. Anyone who was around at the time remembers it as somehow a defining moment of that decade in the way it captures the mood of the times while also having great originality. The script by Hanif Kureishi is deft in its characterisations, and avoids any sense of a soap opera (!) by tapping into a fantasy vein in some of the goings-on - a two-timed wife putting some kind of spell on the mistress which results in a rash, for instance, or, more pleasantly, a delightful sequence bang in the middle of the film. It is the grand opening of the refurbished laundrette, and with an assembled crowd waiting outside, the two men disappear into the office and have sex, practically in sight of the crowd, and then the owner and aforementioned mistress arrive and start waltzing around in front of the machines as if there is no one there. It is shot in such a way that you see one couple against the other, implying the symmetry of genuine feeling, in both cases denied by convention. But the effect is so full of fantasy and joy you imagine Saeed Jaffrey and Shirley Anne Field could be Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The most amazing thing is how the tone of the film can embrace this sequence in the midst of the sharp social commentary as well.

Some reviewers have found fault with the acting, particularly that of lead actor Gordon Warnecke, but it seems to me that his naivety and determination are very well caught. It is very much the spirit of youth, especially as it was back then. It was a less knowing era ... and the contrast with Daniel Day-Lewis's saturnine Johnny is perfect. Their affection is shown to arise from a physical rapport which is as natural as running water - or in this case splashing ... Jaffrey is excellent at conveying the heart as well as the business acumen of the uncle, while Roshan Seth is memorable as the alcoholic but caring father who has gone off the rails since his wife's suicide. These two brothers are admirably projected so that their scene together at the end really moves you while being understated. But a lot of the credit goes to Stephen Frears' direction, which somehow captures the myriad emotions of the film with a sense of movement, as if his camera has mobilised feeling itself. The London of 1985 is full of unexpected visual poetry without this being self-conscious. For example, the second scene shows Omar (Warnecke) in the cramped flat doing the washing, and through the window you see the railway line in morning light, up very close. It shows at once what these conditions may be like to live in and how there is a certain visual poetry as well in the light and texture of objects in the room and the wallpaper. It's like this all the way through - the laundrette is a luminous space even before the refit, again caught in beautiful shafts of light. Elsewhere we see a nightclub brilliantly caught, and Johnny's shared house at night. There are quite a few mirrors, an oval one in Omar's flat frequently used as a vantage point while immediately making it clear where we are. The final scene of the boys splashing is reflected in a mirror behind, while at one moment the two boys' faces are superimposed on plate glass they are on either side of. This kind of use of motifs is never made too obvious but it does make you aware of the way Frears is imposing some shape on what could be a chaotic visual picture. It's a bit like the way John Schlesinger caught the same city in his similarly-themed Sunday Bloody Sunday 14 years earlier - there was lots of glass there too ... I must add that Shirley Anne Field and Rita Wolf (as Omar's cousin) both add superbly contrasting notes in the main female roles, and also that the music is very evocative of the period, complete with occasional sudsing noises on the soundtrack (at the beginning as a background to the spinning credits). There is a constant underlying critique of the Thatcher government as well, of course, which, given the boldness of the racial and sexual themes, is compellingly presented. And I have to mention that the other vital character, called Salim, looks disconcertingly sexy in his shower cap - he's another example of the script and actor coming together to realise a multi-facetted portrayal with just a few expressive lines of the crayon. It's a film that has lost none of its power to move and captivate the viewer.
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