My Beautiful Launderette is set in South London in the 1980s, the film tells the story of young British Indian Omar, who takes over the running of his uncle’s run-down launderette. In his attempt to turn it into a success, he employs former childhood friend and ex-National Front member Johnny (played by a smoking hot Daniel Day-Lewis) and the two men fall in love. But they’re soon confronted by problems caused by both Omar’s family who want him to marry an ‘Indian’ girl of a good family, Johnny’s former gang.
In its frank depiction of inter-racial gay love, there’s no question My Beautiful Launderette was way ahead of its time. It also bravely explores racism, the second-generation immigrant experience, and the new enterprise culture of Thatcher’s Britain. It launched the careers of Daniel Day-Lewis, director Stephen Frears and writer Hanif Kureishi.
There are of course issues with the movie, namely that it’s a story about two gay men that never use the word gay; but at the time it was an astonishing piece of cinema. Some of the characters are stereotypes, and some of the acting is over the top; but it is a movie that any gay couple should have on their list of watched and will watch again.