Dirty Talk to Dirty Wash
by ksira1 on November 19, 2013 - 12:04am
My Beautiful Launderette was filmed in London, England and tells a tale behind a tale. The main characters are two boys in their teenage years names Omar and Johnny who went to school together then went their separate ways. Years later while Omar was driving his uncle and his uncle’s friend home he spotted Johnny under a bridge, stops the car and gets out to talk to him disregarding the fact that Johnny’s friends were throwing themselves at the car while his uncle and company were inside. Johnny was really reserved when he was talking to Omar and then when his friends came over Omar went back to the car. I did not really understand why Johnny acted like this, I simply chalked it up to that Omar was Pakistani and Johnny was white so they typically weren’t seen associating. Omar’s uncle had given him a launderette to fix up and work at, per the request by Omar’s father that his son does some work for him to keep himself occupied. Johnny is hired by Omar to work at the launderette and fix it up, but is ridiculed and questioned by his friends why he would work for a Pakistani. Johnny never gave them a real answer and always brushed it off like it was none of their concern.
Meanwhile, Omar has been arranged to wed his cousin Tania. She is completely for the wedding and even tries to make sexual advances towards Omar in person, through windows, and even in the family’s green room. Omar doesn’t accept any of these advances and this makes Tania very upset. This didn’t make any sense to me either, then the plot twist came out and everything made sense: Omar and Johnny were gay lovers. This would never be accepted by either one of their parents, their friends, or even the social community. With this being known they kept their feelings under wraps, but throughout the movie you can see the passion and lust burning between them. One scene that shows this is when Omar and Johnny are waiting for Omar’s father to come to the launderette for the opening day. While they were waiting they went in the back room and started fooling around, teasing each other and what not. Omar’s uncle and his mistress walk into the front door so the boys had to put their clothes on instead of having sex, but the scene really showed the unmasked attraction for each other behind closed doors. I completely sympathize with Johnny because he loves Omar so much as to put his friends, social structures, and what he is thought of by everyone else aside to be with Omar. Johnny is also trying to get away from the “bad boy” life style, but Omar keeps dragging him right back in. The film ends after there is a mass fight at the launderette. Omar’s uncle, who actually killed one of Johnny’s friends, was rescued from being jumped by Johnny’s friends by Johnny himself.
If that doesn’t tell you that loyalties lie deeper than being socially accepted then I don’t know what does. Frears really portrays how difficult it is to not only be affiliated with social issues, structure, and culture, but how difficult it is to overcome them to have you own happiness. The social aspect of class and class rank also keep Omar and Johnny apart, and we even see Omar treat Johnny as harsh as the norms of society would expect at some points in the film. This is heartbreaking to see as a viewer and makes the audience’s yearn for a “happily ever after” even stronger. Johnny would never be accepted by Omar’s father because Omar’s father saw Johnny marching in the streets against Pakistani’s living where they do now. This is a total disgrace and is also one of the reasons Omar’s father has such a hatred for Johnny and wants his son to have nothing to do with him. The boys however are willing to put all social differences aside if they can be happy and be together in a relationship, which is shown by the ending scene of Omar and Johnny splashing water at each other in the back room of the launderette.
Frears, S. (Director). (1985). My Beautiful Laundrette [DVD]. United Kingdom: Working Title Films.