FROM ENGLAND IN THE ’80S

My Beautiful Laundrette
Stephen Frears
1985

This discussion contains SPOILERS.

This was a brave film in 1985.  In the last shot Omar and Johnny face each other over a basin as they wash up after a street fight.  They splash each other with water in a scene of sexual playfulness.  These two men are going to be happy together.  Neither has been killed or had to die.  Neither has even had to give the other up.  One reviewer pointed out that neither of them has had to defend his love to family or friends.

What My Beautiful Laundrette does not do or say frees it from cliché and gives it power.

It should perhaps be noted that all the female characters end unhappy, including the film’s most likeable person, Shirley Anne Field as Rachel, the mistress of Omar’s uncle.  Neither Omar nor Johnny  —  friends since school days, now unselfconscious lovers  —  is always likable, but Gordon Warnecke and Daniel Day-Lewis have us pulling for them.

Like the male love affair, the film’s social and racial commentary on England and its Pakistanis is indirect and subtle and all the stronger for it.

Gordon Warnecke -- photo used with kind permission of Liam Bluett (liambluett.com)

Gordon Warnecke — photo used with kind permission of Liam Bluett (liambluett.com)

Gordon Warnecke is perfectly cast as Omar.  Roshan Seth and Charu Bala Chokshi are bedrock human as his father and uncle.  Daniel Day-Lewis as friend Johnny is riveting.  As frequent Rick’s Flick correspondent Becca put it:  You cannot not watch him.

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Explore the splendid photographs and rich commentary of Liam Bluett’s “Movies and Portraits Through the Ages.”

 

NEXT FRIDAY POST December 9

Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

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