My Beautiful Laundrette: A look back at a wonderful film

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If I could kiss the personification of the film “My Beautiful Laundrette,” I would. This was a 1985 film centering on a Pakistani-English gay man and his attempts in opening up a laundry business, while resisting the racial tensions of Margaret Thatcher's London.

Also, happy spoiler alert: the silverscreen couple featured in the film actually have a positive resolution. Neither becomes torn apart by death or painful tragedy! Which, I’ve seen, seems to be a rare occurrence on TV with gay characters even in the year 2016. (Giving shifty eyes to you, CW’s “The 100.”)

Omar (Played by an authentically talented Gordon Warnecke) is a young adult who’s given a run-down laundromat by his uncle. Soon after, he gets attacked by a gang while in his car - but the situation immediately takes a different turn when he finds out the leader is his former lover, Johnny. 

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Omar’s eventual reunion and romance with street punk Johnny (Played by Daniel Day Lewis in one of his earliest works) plays as a catalyst against the social issues that affect their daily life - racism, homophobia, socioeconomic differences, and so on. Johnny becomes devoted to Omar’s cause, but not reformed to the best of Omar’s liking - plus, tensions rise within Omar’s family for their own individual conflicts, both related to the couple and not.

While the story lends itself to the main couple, the depth of its supporting cast makes this film complex and rich in its characterization. It feels like a painting in the world that was once true: seedy, contemporary London with seedy, contemporary love in all of its spectrums.

I definitely recommend “My Beautiful Laundrette” to anyone with an interest in 1980s films, films centering on challenging internal racism, and any movie buff who enjoys a thoughtful portrayal of complicated, fascinating characters and their developing interactions with each other.

It is a snapshot of the past, but the film doesn't feel dated. Everything within it is a wealth of character, setting and story, all interweaved together to make a wonderful social commentary on the life of our beautiful laundrette, Omar Ali.


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