My Beautiful Laundrette - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

My Beautiful Laundrette Reviews

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Super Reviewer
February 15, 2015
I have seen this film on several "100 Best Films" lists (well, for sub-genres), but I just don't get it. Other than having progressive social messages, there's little that keeps the film from being a complete washout. The acting is not impressive -- and indeed, the main star (Warnecke) has an impenetrable, silly smile for no reason throughout the film, even when a smile is completely out of synch with what's going on around him. The cinematography, editing, sound and everything else technical sinks to the level of your typical 1980's "B movie". Even the opening credits are ineffective novelties, with titles spinning around like they're going down the drain with the rest of the movie. And the writing! Nothing is adequately explained other than the point that both Pakistani immigrants and blue collar street toughs perceive themselves to be disadvantaged by each other. Romances and sexuality issues come out of nowhere and subsequently disappear without even seeming to register on Warnecke's silly grin. I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone other than film historians who care about its influence on 1980's British cinema because it sure ain't enjoyable otherwise.
Super Reviewer
August 27, 2010
Within the context of film history, this film is surely important as a pioneer in discussion homosexuality in a straight-forward, even endorsing, manner. But I can't help noticing that the dialogue is stolid and expository. Additionally, the gay relationship is not adequately set up. We get no looks of longing or attraction between Omar and Johnny; they rather suddenly kiss. No matter the sexuality of the relationship, the audience needs some clue about the characters' objectives. With Warnecke's performance, it is almost impossible to tell anything about his character's emotional life because during much of his screen time he has a plastic, "I-smile-just-because" grin, which often belies the events going on around him. Finally, we get a lot of generalized complaints about "this country," and the anti-Pakistani sentiment is revealed, but is this only what the complaints refer to? I shouldn't have to ask this question.
I think the biggest surprise about this film isn't the gay relationship but the fact that this was nominated for Best Screenplay.
Super Reviewer
September 14, 2009
Had to watch it for a film class. Might not have watched it otherwise.
Super Reviewer
June 8, 2009
Stephen Frears's 1985 film is a testament for a group of confused, irreverent middle to lower class youths of the Thatcher years in London. The characters of My Beautiful Laundrette are young, they have nothing to do, they want to do something... but they don't know when, or what to do. Above all, they want out of the niche. They want money.

The epicenter is Omar, the son of Pakistani emigrees. He's constantly harassed by a group of skinheads, who can't understand why Johnny -who is white- hangs out with him more than he does with them. So not only are Johnny and Omar adrift and lacking a definite social circle, they are also romantically involved, which doesn't incite much approval either. They are pretty much alone in their quest for stability and success. This is what the film is about. A slice of their daily lives, and how Omar wants to start working at his Uncle's laundrette and turn it into the fanciest laundrette in the area. And make money. Johnny helps him. They overcome some of the obstacles, the frowning, and the pressure to take a more 'normal' path and split up, but when the film ends it is obvious the trouble is not over and never will be.

I have never understood MBL as a generalization of the Thatcher years, especially considering how specific the conditions of the characters are. Of course, it must be parting from a generally uniform view of the social climate, but I would hate to suggest it reflects an entire society. However, that doesn't make the story any less important. A general knowledge of the average, slightly fundamentalist Western man is enough to understand how realistic the attitudes of harassment towards Omar and Johnny are. Therefore, although so specific, the film addresses real issues. So if you're not in for some critical thinking it's better you don't watch it. Omar and Johnny's relationship is both same gender and interracial, and it's interesting to see ourselves react before this scenario. Every film that takes on gay or racial issues is bound to be provocative. Although I personally didn't learn anything with MBL, mainly because I have no problem at all with anything, I admire how naturally the film explores controversial themes. I guess what truly struck me is that the "questioning" doesn't feel forced.

It's also an interesting watch for any enthusiasts of Daniel Day-Lewis like myself. He had not worked much before (was this his first film?) but the magnetic screen presence is there as much as ever.

MBL is an easy-going film with much more depth than it appears to have. You just flow with it and get to know Omar and Johnny. You yell at them for being so stupid sometimes, and you laugh with them on other occasions for being so clever. It is not the best film I've ever seen, but one of the most involving... yes.
Super Reviewer
September 3, 2006
Director:Stephen Frears
Released: 1986
Stars : Daniel Day Lewis, Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth
Genre: Drama
Country: UK

An ambitious British Asian and his white lover strive for success and hope, when they open up a glamorous laundrette

My Beautiful Laundrette was one of those films which I've been meaning to see for a long long time. Not just because it's a classic British film but because it has only of my favourite actors (Daniel Day Lewis') first roles. This film is not only about the romance between a British Asian and a British guy but about Thatcher's 1980's Britain. It's defiantly one of my favourite films of the 1980's.

My Beautiful Laundrette, despite ageing a little, still maintains aspects of 80's culture that can be still prevalent in today's society. With aspects of British Muslim culture constantly questioned in today's society this is even more of an important film. Racism in relation to British Muslims has gone on recently in the UK and a strong part of our Media. Perhaps some aspects of the film is not relevant, for instance, the constant use of ?paki? wouldn?t be used in recent period films but only in the films of the 1980?s. Perhaps that?s an aspect that has aged the film a little but this film will always remain a strong depiction of life in Thatcher?s Britain for British Asians, and indeed gay men.

My Beautiful Laundrette is one of Daniel Day Lewis?s first acting roles; previously he?d played supporting roles. Day Lewis is a strong part of this film and delivers a strong performance, one which you can see what Stephen Frears say in him. Day-Lewis plays a great role as Johnny, school friend of Omar and certainly makes you empathise with him as a viewer. The acting in this film is a strong part of the construction of it. Like Day Lewis, Gordon Warnecke, in his first acting role delivers a great performance with such vulnerability and innocence. Right from the very first time we see the two characters meet, you can see the attraction and chemistry between the two characters; a relationship which is portrayed brilliantly by Frears. Also worth mentioning Saeed Jafferey as Omar?s uncle, who seems to crop in many British TV Shows and films.

The film is set in Thatcher?s Britain in 1985 and is mentioned by a few of the characters. The film contains examples of Individualism that was the main part of the 1980s, and many aspects of liberalism of the characters. Omar?s Uncle and members of their family seem to aspot characteristics of many of their white counterparts. For instance; owning many businesses, houses (evident in the scene where Johnny kicks out a tenant) and striving to succeed to their level. Once quote which is related to this is said by Omar?s uncle relating to being recognised as a Businessmen and not an Asian businessman. This doesn?t seem to be shared by Omar?s father; who constantly tries to get him to college;

Don't get too involved with that crook. You've got to study. We are under siege by the white man. For us education is power

And I think this is basically an underrated part of the film. The relationship between Omar and Johnny is not only the core of the film, but the backdrop that it is set in as well.

Overall, My Beautiful Laundrette has aged a little (possibly keeping it from a perfect film) but still is an important look into 198?s Thatcher Britain. An important look into the reactions towards British Asian?s entering jobs (previously occupied by white British males), racism and reactions towards homosexuality. Also worth watching to see one of Daniel Day Lewis?s first roles.

Highly recommend

Super Reviewer
August 21, 2008
Just re-watched this having seen it years ago, before I knew who Daniel Day-Lewis was.

I remeber the first time I saw this I totally bought into his character as tough, street savy "punk" they intended him to be. This time around he just seemed like some homeless gay hustler with a bad dye job.

It's a fun little social commentary for the period, a little too "soap-operaish" at times to be as powerful as it might have been.

All in all an enjoyable film, but not nearly as good as I remembered.
Super Reviewer
March 12, 2008
A decent script and direction. Good performances by Gordon Warnecke and Saeed Jaffrey. Daniel Day-Lewis was great. The music was awful. The movie, a little boring. Great photography.
Super Reviewer
½ March 11, 2008
Deals with some very serious issues such as sexuality, rascism and class divide during the Thatcher years, yet I found it not brilliant just OK.
Super Reviewer
December 27, 2007
A favorite.
Super Reviewer
½ August 28, 2007
Very pointed film and a glimpse of the early eighties....I was there and it wasnt that bad...
½ March 31, 2013
"My Beautiful Laundrette" is an interesting movie, especially at its time since it depicts mutliple aspects of the UK society from the 80's. The story is around Omar, son of a Pakistani immigrant. Omar is living with his father and his father hopes his son would continue school, however Omar sees his life differently and want to be a businessman like his uncle. At the same time you have Johnny, an old friend of Omar, living as a "homeless" guy that is part of a club who hates immigrants and particularly Pakistani... Nethertheless, Johnny and Omar will have to take care of a laundrette together for Omar's uncle, which allow them to also express their love with each other.
I think the movie was smart but is rather slow and might feel very obscure. The main character Omar is particularly strange - he looks very out of the world, nearly dreamy, which doesn't go with the dark ambiance of the movie...
March 26, 2013
A low-budget marvel of UK cinema from 1985 that features a young Daniel Day-Lewis giving a fantastic performance and even put director Stephen Frears on the map on an international level. Its an involving story about two friends (one Pakistani, one English) who use stolen drug money to run and operate a run-down laundry house during a period of racial tension in Thatcher-era Britain. Its both a political and social statement against racism and discrimination that realistically captures life in London during Thatcher's era from the perspective of a Pakistani man's desire to break from family traditions and find success as well as one English street punk's struggles for identity and stability in his own future. My only real complaint is its somewhat unresolved conclusion, but all in all, through storytelling, wonderful writing, excellent acting and profound statements, its a winner.
April 22, 2008
A very unappreciated movie today... maybe even back in the mid 80's. It was ahead of its time.

A good story, great one I might ad, about East Asian communities living in England and the strife the have gone through in order to achieve a sense of belonging to a society which disses them.

In this movie Pakistanis in its majority are colluded with the mob and dirty deals, have acquired very westernized ways of living and detached from the traditional lifestyle, and although Omar who is seen as the possible character to break that mold due to his father, a once socialist journalist who appears to have been forced to leave Pakistan...(spoiler alert)... but seems he can't persuade his son about going to college.

But there's another topic which is also being overlooked here... interracial homosexuality which in the 80's was not seen as a problem, but the film hints that the issue is still behind closed doors and its the public's duty to open that door and look into it and accept a more diverse society... thankfully we've come a long way now.
½ June 14, 2011
With two terrific performances from Daniel Day-Lewis and Gordon Warnecke, an intelligent Oscar Nominated screenplay by Hanif Kureishi and under Stephen Frears direction; My Beautiful Laundrette is a captivating movie about love, social economic woes and racism. I was pleasantly surprised.
½ August 3, 2008
Great movie that I only saw a few years ago. An interesting story of finding and standing up for yourself.
½ July 5, 2007
A study in the interplay between class, race and nation. Beautifully written film (it should've gotten the Oscar, screw 'Hannah and Her Sisters'). This is one of the only films Daniel Day-Lewis has been in that was set in the present and not based on a book (so, we see him with really bad 80s hairs and clothes dancing to bad 80s music - I can see why he does adapted period pieces...)
April 25, 2008
This movie really surprised me as a movie made in 1985. (I am not a big fan of 80s movies) I realize, it's Stephen Frears, which explains the difference this film has w/ other 80s movies. Besides the fact that the gorgeous and great Daniel Day-Lewis starred in it, the plot which isn't really a plot is fantastic. My Beautiful Laundrette is a story about characters, people who are outsiders, who struggles and try to fit in in London. There are many great scenes and steamy moments as well! haha
½ November 1, 2007
Nothing like the gay kissing scene at the laundry room in context of British working class.
Based on a novel by Hanif Kurieshi.
June 25, 2007
A terrific film involving a Pakistani-Anglo gay couple in 1980's London. From filmmaker Stephen Frears.
June 13, 2007
THie si teh first Daniel Day-Lewis movie I ever watched and he made quite an impression on me. Frears explores cultural and sexual differences in the very watchable movie.
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