April 29th, 2013: My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

My Beautiful Laundrette

Cast and Crew:   Shirley Anne Field, Stephen Marcus

What It’s About:  Omar (Gordon Warnecke) is the son of an alcoholic Pakistani immigrant (Roshan Seth) living in London. Papa, as he’s referred to throughout the film, calls his brother Nasser (Saeed Jaffrey) to get Omar out of the house and off the dole by giving him a job. Nasser runs a series of small businesses, including the car park where he sets Omar to work washing cars. Omar is ambitious, so he takes Nasser’s offer to work at a launderette-a dump of a place that is clearly going nowhere. Omar proposes to take over management of the launderette completely, and Nasser agrees to charge only rent. Omar then enlists his “friend” (secretly his lover) Johnny (Daniel Day Lewis), a former crook and currently a vagrant youth, to help him. Johnny provides the muscle, both to demolish the place and to kick out troublemakers at the launderette, while Omar provides the brains. His plan is to completely redesign the launderette including a big neon sign, new machines, and music. But how to get the money?

Why Watch it Today?:    Daniel Day-Lewis turns 56 today.  My Beautiful Laundrette is one of his earliest films, an excellent ensemble piece full of conflicts-working class English youth vs. Pakistani immigrants, business vs. tradition, socialism vs. capitalism, tradition vs. modern mores, generational conflict-from director Stephen Frears.

Other Choices:  Daniel Day-Lewis appears in former Movies of the Day There Will Be Blood and Last of the Mohicans.

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