My Beautiful Laundrette Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Gordon Warnecke, Saeed Jaffrey
  • Director: Stephen Frears
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Criterion Collection (Direct)
  • Release Date: July 21, 2015
  • Run Time: 97 minutes

  •         My Beautiful Laundrette is a classic kitchen sink 1980s slice-of-life drama from Stephen Frears (Philomena), though the film’s lasting success owes a great deal to the breakout performance given by a young Daniel Day-Lewis. Having made A Room with a View (1985) the same year, critics raved at the actor’s range, though it is clearly his performance in this film which leaves the most lasting impression. It is a bold performance in a movie that is about the acting and the characters far more than the plot, which often meanders without clear direction.


            Dealing heavily with issues of class and racial division in Margaret Thatcher’s mid-1980s London, My Beautiful Launderette follows the unconventional love story between two young men from extremely different cultures. Young Pakistani entrepreneur, Omar (Gordon Warnecke), sets out to make his ailing alcoholic father (Roshan Seth) proud by starting up his own launderette business with the help of his wealthy uncle, Nasser (Saeed Jaffrey). Nasser flaunts his wealth and success, which he obtained with somewhat questionable morality that soon begins to rub off on Omar. Over the course of the film, we see the corruption caused by the opportunity for wealth offered in Thatcher’s England.


            While Omar begins with the humble attitude of his father, soon the arrogance and racial bitterness of his uncle leaves an impression on him. This is no clearer than in the way that he treats a childhood friend named Johnny (Day-Lewis), who has taken to hanging around a group of skinheads when the two reconnect. Johnny and Omar clearly have a deeper connection with each other that surpasses any differences in their backgrounds and upbringing, but the success begins to change the way that Omar treats his old friend. Even with their romantic involvement, Omar holds some resentment towards the societal expectations about their relationship. Oddly enough, little of this has anything to do with their homosexuality, but instead addresses their separation in class and the racial bias against a Pakistani living in London during the 1980s.


            Thatcher’s economy provides unique opportunities for the immigrants in My Beautiful Laundrette, but this small amount of success and power quickly goes to Omar’s head. He goes from treating Johnny as an old friend and an equal to abusing him like a lowly worker. Whether it is the conflict that Johnny must face when forced to choose between his immigrant-hating friends and his childhood lover or simply Day-Lewis’ ability to captivate, I have always felt that this might have been a stronger film with Johnny as the protagonist rather than Omar.


            This Blu-ray release of My Beautiful Laundrette is director-approved with a newly restored 2K digital transfer which was supervised by director of photography Oliver Stapleton, with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack. There are also a few new special features, including a conversation between Frears and producer Colin MacCabe about the film, as well as interviews with writer Hanif Kureishi, DP Oliver Stapleton, and producers Tim Bevan and Sarah Radclyffe. Other extras include a trailer and a foldout insert with an essay from critic Graham Fuller.


    Entertainment Value: 7.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10

    Historical Significance:  8.5/10

    Special Features: 7/10

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