DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

My Beautiful Laundrette: The Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) movie poster My Beautiful Laundrette

US Theatrical Release: March 7, 1986 (UK Release: November 16, 1985) / Running Time: 98 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Stephen Frears / Writer: Hanif Kureishi

Cast: Saeed Jaffrey (Nasser), Roshan Seth (Papa Hussein Ali), Daniel Day-Lewis (Johnny Burfoot), Gordon Warnecke (Omar Ali), Derrick Branche (Salim N. Ali), Shirley Anne Field (Rachel), Charu Bala Chokshi (Bilquis), Souad Faress (Cherry N. Ali), Rita Wolf (Tania N. Ali), Richard Graham (Genghis), Guardial Sira (Zaki), Stephen Marcus (Moose)

Buy My Beautiful Laundrette from Amazon.com: Blu-ray • DVD • Instant Video

Four years before winning his first of a record-setting three Best Actor Academy Awards, Daniel Day-Lewis appeared in My Beautiful Laundrette, a small British drama directed by Stephen Frears.
Today, 74-year-old Frears is well-known for having directed a number of highly acclaimed films including The Queen, Philomena, and Dangerous Liaisons. Thirty years ago, though, Frears had primarily worked in television, having just two prior theatrical credits to his name.

Laundrette advanced the careers of both Day-Lewis and Frears, but it is their subsequent works that really launched them. Released 1985 in England and March 1986 in the United States, Laundrette was a relatively minor film on its own. True, it did earn Hanif Kureishi an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. (He lost to Woody Allen for Hannah and Her Sisters.) But it wasn't much of a box office draw and it might be forgotten today instead of joining the Criterion Collection this week had its creators not gone on to such notable endeavors.

This film represents a rare supporting role for Day-Lewis, who has since been Oscar-nominated in the Lead Actor category five times. The Irish actor, 27 during filming, plays Johnny, a bleached blonde Cockney punk who attempts to go legitimate. The film's protagonist is Omar (Gordon Warnecke), a Pakistani Londoner, whose father (Roshan Seth) gets him a job other than taking care of alcoholic, bed-ridden Papa. Omar starts cleaning cars in his uncle's parking lot. From there, he gets promoted to the uncle's struggling, decrepit laundrette (a laundromat to us Americans).

Bleached blonde homeless punk Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis) is brought in to work a London laundromat by his friend and lover, Omar (Gordon Warnecke) in Stephen Frears' "My Beautiful Laundrette."

At the laundrette, Omar, who has twice failed out of college, brings in Johnny, his old schoolmate and friend. They clean up and make over the establishment, fitting it with new washing machines and a neon sign out front. Turns out, Omar and Johnny are not just friends, but lovers. Their secret homosexual relationship would seem to be one major reason why Omar has not appeased his family by marrying a fellow Pakistani girl of class.

Laundrette offers a distinct snapshot of the UK in the 1980s. Many of that decade's decorated films were period dramas, set in the distant past. This one, though, presents London as it apparently was in the mid-'80s. The opening scene finds squatters living in squalor being chased out of a condemned building. There is also a reference to Margaret Thatcher, the UK's longtime prime minister whose policies had far-reaching economic implications.

Scenes of two men kissing do seem ahead of their time. Even in today's vastly more tolerant world, such a sight is rare to encounter in a mainstream or even independent film. Conceived and commissioned for television, Laundrette fits the latter definition, having been made for only an estimated £650,000 (adjusted for inflation, that's still just £1.8 million). The intimate drama sees Omar ("Omo" to his friends) trying to rise the ranks of London while wrestling with some issues, including being secretly gay and remaining true to his cultural background.

Omar Ali (Gordon Warnecke) rises from parking lot car cleaner to proprietor of a refurbished laundrette.

Kureishi, at the end of his twenties when this filmed, is himself a British Pakistani and must be drawing from personal experience and family stories in these depictions.
If not the household name that Day-Lewis and Frears are nowadays, Kureishi has continued to work with some regularity, his 21st century works including Venus starring Peter O'Toole and, more recently, Le Week-End with Jim Broadbent.

Even the often transformative Day-Lewis barely stands out in this low-key production, which appears to be equally interested in the tension between affluent immigrants and local hoods, the rise out of the working class, and the pressures an Asian family puts on its young men and women.

Having gone out of print on DVD some time ago, Laundrette might have been destined to fade into obscurity. Instead, Criterion welcomes its second Frears movie into the ranks (it follows 1984's The Hit) with the Blu-ray reviewed here and a single-disc DVD each assigned spine number 767.

My Beautiful Laundrette: The Criterion Collection Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.66:1 Widescreen
1.0 LPCM Mono (English)
Subtitles: English
Extras Not Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Suggested Retail Price: $39.95
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Clear Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($29.95 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video
Previously released as MGM DVD (June 3, 2003)


Even with Criterion restoring, My Beautiful Laundrette cannot hide its low budget and intended-for-TV origins. The 1.66:1 widescreen presentation features a noticeable but necessary level of grain throughout the 16 mm production. The 1.0 LPCM soundtrack is rather unremarkable, but the dialogue is easy to understand and English subtitles are included for those who disagree.

A scarved Stephen Frears reflects on the film in this 2015 interview. Screenwriter Hanif Kureishi discusses his life and his first movie in one of four new substantial crew member interviews.


Criterion's ordinary supply of all-HD, mostly interview-based bonus features begins with a new conversation between director Stephen Frears and British academic Colin MacCabe (33:05).
Frears discusses his career to that point and his experiences making the film, speaking with his usual candor, scarf, and 'tude.

Another Criterion interview conducted in the spring of 2015 allows us to hear from screenwriter Hanif Kureishi (16:27). He discusses the life experiences that shaped his screenplay, his collaborators on the film, and how it came together.

In another new interview, producers Sarah Radclyffe and Tim Bevan, who went on to find Working Title Films, separately reflect on getting their start and this film that launched their long, productive careers (22:20).

In the last new interview, cinematographer Oliver Stapleton (20:59) addresses Laundrette as the first of thus far seven collaborations with Frears, sharing the philosophies that gave this movie its look.

Soap spills out of a washing machine in Orion's US trailer for "My Beautiful Laundrette." Omo and Johnny share an embrace on the My Beautiful Laundrette Blu-ray top menu.

Finally, we get Orion Classics' My Beautiful Laundrette theatrical trailer (2:21) for US audiences.

Criterion treats the movie to a plain static, but scored menu.
As always, the company kindly authors the Blu-ray to both let you resume playback of anything from where you left off, and to set bookmarks over favorite scene.

Last but not least, we find one of Criterion's unparalleled booklets. It devotes half of its ten pages to "Postcolonialism in the Wash", a new essay from film writer Graham Fuller that places the film in context of English cinema and assigns much credit to Frears.


My Beautiful Laundrette intrigues as a portrait of 1980s England and as some of the earliest film work of both Daniel Day-Lewis and director Stephen Frears. Beyond that, the movie kind of underwhelms for a Criterion selection. The label still treats this low-budget drama to presentable picture and sound plus an hour and a half of new bonus materials, although the interview-heavy slate could use some variety. In expanding your Criterion collection, you could do much better than this. Still, the Blu-rays compares favorably to the few catalog discs others are putting out these days.

Buy My Beautiful Laundrette from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Directed by Stephen Frears: Philomena • Dirty Pretty Things • The Grifters • The Queen • Lay the Favorite • Chιri
Daniel Day-Lewis: Lincoln • There Will Be Blood • Nine | Roshan Seth: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
The Color of Money • The Hundred-Foot Journey • My Life as a Dog • Babette's Feast • State of Grace • My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Written by Hanif Kureishi: Venus

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed July 20, 2015.

Text copyright 2015 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1985 Orion Classics, 2015 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and The Criterion Collection. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.