My Beautiful Laundrette is a 1985 film set in South London in the early 1980s. The film can be seen as a critical examination of Thatcherite Britain; it depicts a period rich with British history and tackles a number of issues that contributed to Britain's nationwide identity crisis at the time. The film tells the story of Omar, a young British-Pakistani, and his quest to achieve success, while simultaneously attempting to fit into a society that is determined to reject him because of his background.
This film is of particular significance to me because I am originally from Pakistan, and my father studied in England during the 1980s. The film discusses how the immigrant population were regarded as scum by white Londoners during this time, but also highlights the paradox of the time period as well, as some immigrants had noticeably higher standards of living than white civilians. This only increased the racial tensions in London, and in turn, caused extreme right-wing politics to make a strong comeback. This is showcased in the film in the form of Johnny, an ex-fascist, who, ironically, plays Omar's love interest.
The film also depicts the changes in attitudes towards sex during the 1980s in Britain. Extramarital affairs and infidelity were not only tolerated, but were accepted during this time. However, interracial relationships and homosexual relationships were severely looked down upon. This, among other factors, contributes to Omar and Johnny's struggle with their identities and emphasizes the difficulties young people faced as they grew up during this troubled time period.
Overall, I feel that this film offers a great deal of insight into life in Thatcherite Britain. Almost every line of dialogue of the film's cleverly-written script alludes to the attitudes of characters towards their lives in Britain. Coupled with the powerful performances of the actors in the film (shoutout to a young Daniel Day-Lewis), this film is truly a remarkable piece of social commentary. You can read more about my thoughts on this film here.