My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

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Released 18-Mar-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-Malcolm; Cinema Paradiso
Trailer-Keep The River On Your Right; Shallow Grave
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 93:18 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Stephen Frears
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Saeed Jaffrey
Roshan Seth
Daniel Day Lewis
Gordon Warnecke
Derrick Branche
Shirley Anne Field
Rita Wolf
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music Ludus Tonalis


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    My Beautiful Laundrette is a difficult film to describe. It is on the border between being an art film (and therefore unpleasant) and being a mainstream film (and therefore shallow). Hmm, maybe I better clarify that statement before the flame e-mails start to arrive (too late!). This film is not unpleasant, and not shallow. There are some rough moments, but they are completely justified by the script.

    This film revolves around a young man called Omar (Gordon Warnecke in a very good performance). He is a Pakistani, living in South London, in Thatcherite Britain. We get to meet quite few members of his extended family, also living in England. His father (Roshan Seth) is descending into genteel alcoholism after the death a few years ago of his wife (Omar's mother), but in a lucid moment he insists that Omar get a job working for Nasser (Saeed Jaffrey) - Nasser is Omar's uncle. Nasser is also a businessman, with a variety of enterprises and a strong belief in Thatcher's Britain. Nasser's partner in some businesses is Salim (Derrick Branche). Salim also claims to be a businessman, but he is involved in a number of shady dealings, including smuggling. Nasser's family includes a wife and three daughters, but we really only get to meet Tania (Rita Wolf), although we do see several aunts.

    After he works cleaning cars for a while, Omar gets an opportunity to take over the running of a laundrette (yes, the title refers to a real laundrette). He gets help from a childhood friend, Johnny (Daniel Day Lewis) - it takes quite some time for us to learn the full extent of the relationship between Omar and Johnny. It is complicated by the fact that Johnny has, in the past, run with a gang of racist thugs, and they still hang around him - they strongly disapprove of Johnny associating with Pakistanis.

    Omar has big plans - he is going to make something of himself. He is willing to take a few shortcuts along the way. His attitude toward Johnny is ambivalent, and this is one of the most interesting parts of the film.

    This film was an important boost to the careers of both Daniel Day Lewis (in a supporting role) and Stephen Frears (director). It should have been the same for Gordon Warnecke (leading role), but I fear his race may have been an impediment.

    Stephen Frears is probably best known for Dangerous Liaisons and High Fidelity. This is arguably the other film in his top three works. Clearly he has a deft touch with sexual tension, and this film is no exception. And clearly he can deal well with tension of other kinds - this film offers racial tension, and intergenerational conflicts within a family, too.

    This is an interesting film, and one which tackles some tough issues, including racial tensions in Britain and squatters. It's far from perfect, but it has some excellent moments.

    In my last review I complained about DVDs which start with an excessively loud logo sequence - this is another such disc, this time from Umbrella Entertainment. Trust me, oh mighty distributors, we are more likely to think kindly of you and your films if you don't blast our ears the moment we put your disc in our player.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 (the original theatrical aspect ratio) and is 16x9 enhanced - that means black bars on the sides, rather than top and bottom - the bars won't show on many systems, because the picture is often clipped somewhat to the left and right by the display device.

    The image is very soft; it looks as if this is mostly due to film grain (the film was shot on 16mm film stock). Shadow detail is limited. There is low-level noise, or something that looks very much like it. It looks as though this could have been mastered from a VHS master tape, but then it wouldn't be 16x9 enhanced.

    Colour is quite dull, but that's production design in the most part. There are no fully saturated colours, let alone any oversaturation.

    There are larger film artefacts: a blob at 12:03, a black mark at 25:09, a white one at 25:10, a white scratch at 40:14, a greenish bar at 70:02. There are smaller film artefacts - these are absolutely continuous. There are traces of aliasing, but most of them are hidden by grain. There don't appear to be any MPEG artefacts.

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is single-sided (with an attractive label) and single layered. Thus, there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is one solitary soundtrack on this disc, in English. I listened to it.

    Dialogue is clear and comprehensible, even with the wide range of English accents on display. There are no signs of audio sync problems.

    Ludus Tonalis' score is rather fun - there are some delightful sequences of sudsy sounds, but the majority is fairly conventional.

    The surrounds and subwoofer are not used by this soundtrack. No problem in this dialogue-driven film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The main menu is static with music (sudsy!). Easy to operate, with nice transitions between menus. Madman have done their usual nice job here, even if they did manage to get their own website address wrong in the DVD credits (there should be three Ws, not two...).

Trailer (1:55)

    This is claimed to be the original theatrical trailer, but it isn't - it is a trailer for the US market.

Director Profile

    9 pages of text covering the career of Stephen Frears.

Cast Profiles

    Profiles for Daniel Day Lewis, Gordon Warnecke, Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth, and the author Hanif Kureishi. A total of 20 pages of text.

Umbrella Trailers

    Trailers for other films distributed by Umbrella:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as I can discover, this film has not been released on DVD in Region 1. It is out in Region 2, and the artwork looks identical - I suspect they get the same transfer we do.

Summary

    My Beautiful Laundrette is an interesting film, tackling some difficult issues, on a fairly poor quality DVD.

    The video quality is fairly poor.

    The audio quality is fine.

    The extras are OK, but limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, March 26, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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The DVD Bits - Damien M

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