My Beautiful Laundrette


Comedy drama in which two estranged lovers rekindle their relationship as they take on the management of a run-down London laundrette.

About the film

The film is directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, Florence Foster Jenkins) from a script by Pakistani-English writer Hanif Kureishi. Set during the Thatcher years, the film explores many social issues of the time, including race, class and poverty. It was acclaimed for its groundbreaking representation of gay and Asian characters, and was nominated for an Oscar for its screenplay.

Information about the film's content

We provide information to accompany all our classification decisions. The film was first seen by the BBFC in September 1984. The viewing team noted there was sufficient strong language (‘f**k’) to require a 15 certificate. A 15 means that nobody under the age of 15 can go to the cinema to see the film. Other issues in the film include violence, sex, drug references, and nudity.

Language - There are uses of strong language ('f*k'). Milder terms include 'prick', 'bugger', 'bastard' and 'shit'. There is also the use of racist terms, e.g. 'wog', 'paki'.

Violence - A man is attacked by a gang, the violence accompanied by racist language.

Sex - There is a strong sex scene in which a woman 'rides' a man on a bed.

Other - Other issues include drug references and brief breast nudity.

Discussion Points

  • Did you enjoy the film? How did the film make you feel? Were there any bits of the story that you didn't like? Who was your favourite character?
  • Did you learn anything from the film? If so, what?
  • How does the film explore the tensions between Omar’s father and his uncle Nasser? What are the differences between the brothers’ beliefs and values?
  • The film was controversial upon its release, with some groups objecting to its portrayal of the Pakistani community. Why do you think the film upset some people?
  • Nasser repeatedly references Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. What does his reverence for Mrs Thatcher tell us about his character?
  • 'There is no question of race in the new enterprise culture,' Nasser tells Johnny. Do the events of the film support this statement?
  • Omar and Johnny steal and sell drugs in order to fund the laundrette. What do you think the film has to say about morality? 
  • How does the film explore the theme of relationships? What does it say about romantic relationships? Partnerships? Friendships? Family?
  • Who do you think the film is suitable for? Is a 15 the right age rating? What might teenagers make of the film?

Further Reading and Viewing

Books:The Buddha of Suburbia (Hanif Kureishi, 1990); White Teeth (Zadie Smith, 2001); Brick Lane (Monica Ali, 2004). 

Films: Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987) 18; East Is East (1999) 15; Weekend (2011) 18; Blinded by the Light (2019) 12.