Not content with setting itself in London's Asian community, this also tells a gay love story. Daniel Day Lewis gives a luminous performance as the white ex-National Front hoodlum who befriends an Asian (Warnecke) and helps him create his commercial dream, a laundrette which glitters like a Hollywood picture palace. The fact that Lewis finds himself demoted in the ensuing suds war is typical of
's script, which refuses to push Asians into their customary dramatic role as victims. Instead, they're seen as rapacious businessmen, pedalling furiously on their Tebbitite cycles, and therefore puzzled, as well as angered, by the vicious prejudice they suffer at the hands of the establishment.
is marvellous as the smoothest of the smooth operators, and Frears directs in his customarily unfussy style. But the strength of the film is its vision - cutting, compassionate and sometimes hilarious - of what it means to be Asian, and British, in Thatcher's Britain.