My Beautiful Laundrette
Reviews of My Beautiful Laundrette always seem to mention Margaret Thatcher, as the film was made in 1985 when Thatcherism dominated the British political and social scene. The grubbier side of the 80s is indeed seen through Nasser and Salim and their amoral money making, and the more creative efforts of Omar and Johnny, in the hard times of the 1980s recession; but the central theme of the film – belonging and not belonging - would be at home in any period.
Johnny (played by Daniel Day-Lewis ) and Omar (Gordon Warnecke) have a homosexual relationship somewhat out of keeping with Johnny’s early street tough image, and which would be anathema to Omar’s Asian background; but Johnny too doesn’t fit with his punk mates. Omar’s father is a left wing journalist unable to make it in England; and Nasser’s mistress Rachel (Shirley Anne Field) is an outsider as his daughter Tania seems destined to become. Even the laundrette that the protagonists make beautiful is obviously out of place in a far from salubrious location.
My beautiful laundrette was the breakthrough film for director Stephen Frears; made writer Hanif Kureishi’s name; and was the first starring role for Day-Lewis who would go on to win (as of now) two Oscars. Originally made for Channel 4 Television the film was a big box office success when it was decided to launch it for the cinema.
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