My Beautiful Laundrette (1986)

My Beautiful Laundrette
Type Feature Film
MPAA Rating R
Runtime 1hr 35mins.
Genres Drama
Keywords N/A
Status Released
US Release Date
  • High Fidelity Review

    "What came first," Rob Gordon (John Cusack) desperately wants to know, "the music or the misery?" Over-stimulated by the sounds coming out of his outsize headphones, morose Rob is seizing the moment of his breakup with Laura (Iben Hjejle) to reflect on "the thousands of hours of heartache, rejection, pain, misery and loss" he experienced while exposing himself to wave after wave of popular music. "Did I listen because I was miserable," he wonders, "or was I miserable because I listened?" Further proof of how funny we can be when we're at our most despondent, "High Fidelity" is a sharp and satisfying romantic comedy about the difficulty of commitment that utilizes Stephen Frears' incisive direction and some very knowing and sophisticated writing to give actor Cusack one of the best roles of his career. That is saying something, because Cusack, talented as well as shrewd about what he gets himself into, doesn't go in for weak material. Rob Gordon, a part Cusack had a hand in writing, is specifically tailored to his everyman persona, to his gift for intimacy with the audience and his ability to humanize characters who are difficult and potentially off-putting. The last time out for Cusack and writing partners D.V. DeVincentis and Steve Pink was "Grosse Point Blank," in which the actor played a hit man with a career crisis; "High Fidelity" presents them with a character who faces a less lethal kind of challenge. (Scott Rosenberg of the glib "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" and "Con Air" also gets a writing credit.) The Cusack pack had the advantage of starting from Nick Hornby's fine novel, a delightful book that is very savvy about the vagaries of relationships, especially from the male point of view. It's Rob, using either voice-over or direct talk to the camera, who preserves the book's first-person quality as well as chunks of its dialogue. "High Fidelity" presents him as someone who's his own worst enemy, a tortured and grumpy eternal adolescent who doesn't have to hide his weakness for being a real jerk to gain our sympathy. Given his opening rant about the pernicious effect of lyrics, it's not a surprise that Rob's life is pop music. He owns Championship Vinyl, a Chicago establishment (smoothly moved from the novel's London) that's a shrine to old-fashioned phonograph records and mecca to obsessive geeks who "spend a disproportionate amount of their time looking for deleted Smiths singles and 'ORIGINAL NOT RERELEASED' underlined Frank Zappa albums." This universe's two biggest geeks, Dick and Barry, a.k.a. "the musical moron twins," just happen to work for Rob, and as played by Todd Louiso and Jack Black are the comic center of the film. Dick is the sensitive flower while Barry is rowdy, abrasive and downright hilarious. They join Rob in insulting the customers, making abstruse jokes about the Beta Band and Ryuichi Sakamoto and constructing an endless number of all-time Top 5 lists, from Top 5 dream jobs to Top 5 songs about death ("Leader of the Pack," "Dead Man's Curve," "Tell Laura I Love Her," etc). Though the Championship Vinyl store (magnificently created for the film by a crew that includes production designers David Chapman and Therese DePrez, art director Nicholas Lund, set decorator Larry P. Lundy and property master Timothy W. Tiedje) is real enough to be a character in its own right, it's not the best place for empathy, and that's what Rob needs after his break with Laura. Initially he faces the split with bravado, yelling at her that she doesn't even make his all-time Top 5 list of memorable split-ups (yes, he has one), but that fighting spirit is not fated to last. As the pain of Laura's absence (and her possible connection with someone else) sinks in, Rob is forced, for perhaps the first time, to think about his life and confront his difficulty with romance and commitment. "What's wrong with me? Why am I doomed to be left?" he wonders plaintively and, in an attempt to find out, thinks back on that list of all-time memorable ruptures, amusingly reconsidering liaisons with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lili Taylor and others. * * * Director Frears, who is noticeably good with realistic relationships that have a touch of comedy in them ("The Snapper," "My Beautiful Laundrette"), knows his way around this scenario. Under his guidance, Cusack's painful but funny reexamination leads to a getting of wisdom that is no less welcome for coming years later than it should have. Cusack, with his ability to project glowering desperation and a sense of aggrieved entitlement, is perfect for this role. As Laura, the woman he can't live with or without, Danish actress Hjejle (recently seen as a prostitute-turned-housekeeper in that country's "Mifune") displays both faultless English and a formidable sense of integrity that allows her to more than hold her own in fairly heady company. For it's a tribute to how well "High Fidelity" has been written (and to the respect other performers have for Cusack and Frears) that the film employs quite a number of excellent actors in small roles. In addition to Taylor and Zeta-Jones, there are parts for Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Lisa Bonet, Sara Gilbert and Natasha Gregson Wagner. The film's music (more than 50 songs are listed in the credits, with artists ranging from Aretha Franklin to Stereolab) is expertly chosen, and there's even a cameo by Bruce Springsteen, giving sage romantic advice. Of course Rob needs it, but whether he can take it is, obviously, quite another story. * MPAA rating: R, for language and some sexuality. Times guidelines: contemporary profanity and some sexual scenes. es: Brockovich is a torrent of profanity.

  • Bond Star Daniel Craig Picks Up Best Actor
    By: Feb 05, 2007

    James Bond star Daniel Craig picked up best actor for Casino Royale at Saturday night's 34th annual Evening Standard British Film Awards--but Helen Mirren lost out on the best actress award.

  • Film Bio Of Peter Sellers In Works
    By: Lew Irwin Aug 31, 2001

    A British-American production team is developing a film about actor/comic Peter Sellers (the Pink Panther movies, Dr. Strangelove, Being There), who died in 1980.

Name Credit Credited as Role Id Sort Order
Stephen Keith-Roach Assistant Camera n/a 233 6000002
Oliver Stapleton Director of Photography n/a 120780 6000001
Mick Audsley Editor n/a 172 7000001
Jason Adams Assistant Editor n/a 203 7000002
Ludus Tonalis Music n/a 120781 8000001
Christopher Cook Assistant Editor n/a 203 7000003
Rebecca O'Brien Location Manager n/a 193 5000005
Gary Davies Assistant Director n/a 163 5000004
Tim Bevan Producer n/a 3 3000002
Sarah Radclyffe Producer n/a 3 3000001
Hanif Kureishi Screenplay n/a 120778 4000001
Jane Frazer Production Manager n/a 305 5000001
Waldo Roeg Assistant Director n/a 163 5000003
Simon Hinkly Assistant Director n/a 163 5000002
Stanley Myers Performer n/a 120819 8000002
Hans Zimmer Performer n/a 120819 8000003
Bill Weston Stunt Coordinator n/a 120804 19000003
Jim Dowdall Stunt Coordinator n/a 120804 19000002
Nosher Powell Stunt Coordinator n/a 120804 19000004
Tip Tipping Stunts n/a 240 19000005
Wayne Michaels Stunts n/a 240 19000007
Tracey Eddon Stunts n/a 240 19000006
Rocky Taylor Stunt Coordinator n/a 120804 19000001
Budge Tremlett Sound Editor n/a 229 14000003
Lindy Hemming Costume Designer n/a 169 13000001
Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski Production Designer n/a 164 9000001
Elaine Carew Makeup n/a 353 13000002
Karen Sharpe Wardrobe wardrobe mistress 120823 13000003
Peter Maxwell Sound sound rerecording mixer 120816 14000002
Albert Bailey Sound sound recording mixer 120816 14000001
Stephen Frears Director n/a 2 2000001
Sheila Chitnis Actor Zaki's Wife 1 1000031
Dudley Thomas Actor 2nd Jamaican 1 1000011
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Charu Bala Choksi Actor Bilquis 1 1000013
Nisha Kapur Actor Nasser's Younger Daughter 1 1000015
Persis Maravala Actor Nasser's Elder Daughter 1 1000014
Richard Graham Actor Ghengis 1 1000009
Derrick Branche Actor Salim 1 1000008
Saeed Jaffrey Actor Nasser 1 1000003
Gordon Warnecke Actor Omar 1 1000002
Roshan Seth Actor Omar's Papa 1 1000004
Shirley Ann Field Actor Rachel 1 1000005
Souad Faress Actor Cherry 1 1000007
Rita Wolf Actor Tanya 1 1000006
Neil Cunningham Actor Englishman 1 1000016
Walter Donohue Actor Dick O'Donnell 1 1000017
Dulice Leicier Actor Girl in Disco 1 1000026
Ayub Khan-Din Actor Student 1 1000025
Badi Uzzaman Actor Dealer 1 1000027
Chris Pitt Actor 1st Kid 1 1000028
Colin Campbell Actor Madame Butterfly Man 1 1000030
Kerryman White Actor 2nd Kid 1 1000029
Bhasker Actor Tariq 1 1000024
Ram John Holder Actor Poet 1 1000023
Stephen Marcus Actor Moose 1 1000019
Gurdial Sira Actor Zaki 1 1000018
Dawn Archibald Actor 1st Gang Member 1 1000020
Jonathan Patrick Moore Actor 2nd Gang Member 1 1000021
Gerald Horan Actor Telephone Man 1 1000022
Daniel Day-Lewis Actor Johnny 1 1000001
When Omar is saddled with a struggling laundromat and told to make it work or else, he brings in his old pal Johnny to help him run it. But issues of homosexuality, class and race conspire to make every day a challenge for the ambitious duo.