My Beautiful Laundrette

My Beautiful Laundrette ★★★★½

At once ahead of its time and politically, socially immediate, Frears and Kureishi’s first collaboration is a big mess of ideas woven into an entertaining tale of dog-eat-dog Thatcherite England that manages to pull off something like a happy ending. 

Kureishi had a young outsider’s ambition, and Frears had the experienced, formal control to make it all flow as a coherent, moving story. By the time there’s talk of a magic potion that animates furniture, it’s clear that they’ve been dabbling outside of kitchen-sink realism all along. It’s still jarring, even after multiple viewings, but I can’t help but love the guts that fueled this crazy narrative. 

The crosscutting at the climax observes the shifts in at least six characters’ fates while explicitly grappling with racist violence, colonialism, family legacies, the oppression of women, and queer, interracial love. 

Their brilliant, sprawling follow-up, Sammie and Rosie Get Laid, never got a life beyond VHS, which still breaks my heart.

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