Posts Tagged ‘daniel day lewis’


I first saw this film when it came out in 1985, and thought it was well past overdue another look. I do believe that this was the film that first made me aware of Daniel Day-Lewis, and upon rewatching it, it’s easy to see the star quality that subsequently helped him become such a huge name, and a three time winner at the Oscars.

My Beautiful Laundrette tells the story of the homosexual, mixed race love affair between Omar (Gordon Warnecke) and Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis). Omar is a young man trapped between two cultures and indeed two relatives – his alcoholic father, who has both intelligence and integrity, and his capitalist uncle, who has money but considerably less scruples. Johnny is one of a group of thugs, but he genuinely wants to change his ways, and like Omar is trapped between the world that he came from and the world that he is moving into. Together they revamp Omar’s uncle’s rundown laundrette, but with both of them with a foot in two worlds, and unable to reveal their relationship to their nearest and dearest, their lives get complicated and fraught with tension.

I should say that this film is so much more than the relationship between the two men. It’s also a social commentary, with some scenes of racism that were uncomfortable to watch. Seeing Omar skirt on the fringes of his uncle’s employee Salim’s criminal enterprise, while Johnny was simultaneously trying to become a better person was an interesting comparison, as was witnessing the success of Omar’s uncle, compared to the dismal life that his father led, despite being the more intelligent and principled of the two men.

The film definitely portrayed an authentic atmosphere of living in a run-down neighbourhood with few prospects, and the frustration of feeling trapped, but through it all, the hopefulness of Omar and Johnny both in their relationship and in their business came through.

I would say that some of the acting was not brilliant, but Daniel Day-Lewis was (of course) outstanding, and special credit also to Roshan Seth as Omar’s father.

I definitely enjoyed this film and highly recommend it.


Year of release: 1985

Director: Stephen Frears

Writer: Hanif Kureishi

Main cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Said Jeffrey, Gordon Warnecke, Roshan Seth


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Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter in her first cinematic role) and her cousin and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith) are on holiday in Florence, but find that their hotel rooms do not have the view they requested.  Mr Emerson Denholm Elliott) and his son George (Julian Sands) offer to let the ladies have their rooms – which do have a view.  A friendship of sorts develops between Lucy and the moody and slightly eccentric George, but when she goes back to England, she becomes engaged to the stuffy Cecil Vyse (an almost unrecognisable Daniel Day Lewis).  However, when George and his father rent a cottage in the village where Lucy lives, she finds herself drawn to George again…

This is a lovely looking film, and still feels fresh although it’s now 26 years old (!)  It has a stellar cast – Maggie Smith and Judi Dench are excellent as always.  Simon Callow is also great as Reverend Beebe, and Denholm Elliott snatches his scenes from under everybody’s noses; he is absolutely terrific as Mr Emerson (and garnered an Oscar nomination for his performance).  A fresh faced Rupert Graves plays Freddy, Lucy’s brother, and the character is adorable.  I was less keen on Danie Day Lewis’ performance as Cecil Vyse, but that is probably because I found the character difficult to warm to.  Helena Bonham Carter displays the talent that would lead her to become one of Britain’s most respected actress.  Her performance here may be more raw than her later performances, but she still captures the character very well indeed.  The only weak spot in the cast for me was Julian Sands.  I wanted to like him, but I just thought his acting was so incredibly wooden as to verge on embarrassing.

However, there’s still plenty here to enjoy – it’s one of Merchant Ivory’s most popular productions and definitely a must-see for any fans of period drama.  Florence looks lovely, and it’s a very sweet film with lots of unexpected humour.  The ending is hardly a surprise, but is very satisfying nonetheless.  Certainly recommended, for a lovely story, and an almost perfect cast.

Year of release: 1985

Director: James Ivory

Writers: E M Forster (book), Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Main cast: Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Sands, Denholm Elliott, Maggie Smith, Daniel Day Lewis

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