My Beautiful Laundrette Screen 9 articles

My Beautiful Laundrette

1985

My Beautiful Laundrette Poster
  • Laundrette [was] an instant classic for me, one of those movies that validates your life experience and worldview at a point when it needs validating, making you feel as if you are not just seeing but being seen as you watch it. Seen now, without that brave-new-world charge, the sex scenes seem a little stagey and the chemistry between Omar and Johnny feels lame—especially in the final scene where the two splash water on each other's bare chests, as self-conscious as bad actors in a porno.

  • My Beautiful Laundrette is a tricky movie, mixing its unsubtle Big Themes (race relations, the Thatcher-era economy) and contrived plotting with a warmth that recalls early Wong Kar-wai.

  • [The] haphazard quality—the failure to make Johnny credible as someone who used to be a skinhead in training—seems nearly irrelevant in the face of Day-Lewis’ sheer charisma. Likewise, while Omar and Johnny’s romance, apparently renewed from their younger days, doesn’t set off any sparks (in part because Warnecke seems so thoroughly harmless), there’s still satisfaction to be found in the casual way the film handles it.

  • Fast, bold, harsh and primitive like a prodigious student film with equal parts promise and threat.

  • Frears doesn't treat the gay relationship as anything remarkable—which makes the film itself remarkable—but simply as a surge of encouraging human feeling against a background of economic devastation and racial divisiveness.

  • Throughout, Frears's lens is ever the explorer, with flamboyant crane shots caressing every corner of every scene. My Beautiful Laundrette is still fresh and remains a model case for creating moving, liberating cinema from an oppressive environment. It's every bit the landmark gay film it deserves to be.

  • Frears and Kureishi rarely emphasize typical dramatic beats. Time has a way of passing suddenly and inexplicably in My Beautiful Laundrette, and conflicts are forgotten only to resurface with the arbitrariness of actual life. The filmmakers routinely lead the audience down traditional narrative rabbit holes in any given scene, only to subsequently tunnel into surprising detours.

  • Whereas it took a cluster of “kitchen sink” dramas to enfranchise the northern working class in the British cinema of the early 1960s, a single subversive movie did it for the Anglo-Asian community in the 1980s. My Beautiful Laundrette, written by Hanif Kureishi and directed by Stephen Frears, threw a Molotov cocktail of urban chaos, polemical ire, spiky comedy, and mixed-race queer sex into the so-called British Film Renaissance of 1984–86.

  • The idiosyncratic beauties of Laundrette emerge from how it grabs gray socialized realism by the horns and wrestles it into breathless submission. Coupling its blithe/flinty gay romance to the black-market comedy of Pakistani immigrants climbing over each other to get on board Thatcher’s “enterprise society,” the movie never proceeds as you’re expecting.

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