My Beautiful Laundrette: a wonderful film

My Beautiful Laundrette is a 1985 film directed by Stephen Frears. The screenplay was written by Hanif Kureishi. I actually knew nothing about it until a few years ago. My own interest in the film was sparked by my first encounter with Kureishi which inspired me to search for more of his works. That encounter was with a short story, Beheadings and Weddings that made it into one of my first blog posts (see here).

However, after I picked the film up from the downtown library I was pleasantly surprised to see that it featured a performance by the young Daniel Day Lewis, circa 1980s.

Basically it is a coming of age story of a Pakistan immigrant in Thatcher(ite) England.

There are of course a few twists. His father is a drunken intellectual who wants him to get a university education, his uncle who he works for lives a playboy lifestyle with a mistress, and his uncles business partner and friend imports drugs (heroin or coke). Additionally, in the course of the film he reunites with an old friend (played by Daniel Day Lewis) from schoolyard days.

It is slowly suggested that they had more than just a past friendship, they were lovers. It is at this stage of the film that the laundrette appears. The two boys become business partners with a plan to renovate and revamp(or is it camp) the establishment.

Something about the laundrette being itself a campy ideal, but cool. I mean how gay right? But it was almost designed like a club. They even had a booth with two way mirror where they consummated their love on-screen, at least for the viewer, for the first time. Something also so downmarket in the sense of aspirations. A successful laundromat (in the US) business and a lover. Not too much to ask right?

Overall the film was quite lovely, a simple plot, yet with characters that were believable. Moreover by the end the viewer was definitely rooting for the two protagonists.

Oh, and the director Stephen Frears (of High Fidelity fame) just happens to be from Leicester. Which is the only city, or region (the Midlands) of England that I have spent any amount of time in.

Buy it from Amazon (here)


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