Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Manners, Satire, Urban Comedy, Urban Drama  |   Release Date - Oct 30, 1987 (USA)  |   Run Time - 101 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Messier and less sure-footed than the exquisite My Beautiful Laundrette, this second Stephen Frears/Hanif Kureishi collaboration provides plenty of provocative scenarios through which to explore 1980s London in all of its ethnic, sexual, financial, and political complexity. Kureishi's hip, conflicted characters and Frears' deadpan eye for urban absurdity maintain a likably loopy mood as the film shifts fluidly from street riots to righteous parties. Frears keeps the visual palette funky, too, with imagery that ranges from the documentary to the hallucinatory and includes a triple split-screen sex scene. As for the fine cast, they do their best to bring the film's tangled issues to life, from Frances Barber as the wry, resigned Rosie to Fine Young Cannibals singer Roland Gift as the enigmatic Victoria. Such indelible characters cannot, however, save Sammy and Rosie Get Laid from its own overstuffed ambitions. Despite the script's repeated jabs at the title characters' liberal slumming, the film itself sometimes seems to treat its politics as so much chic window dressing; perhaps the script's weighty issues just don't gel well with its trendy trappings. At any rate, Laundrette's sense of questions asked and answered is mostly missing, and it would be simply too convenient to chalk up this oversight to postmodern uncertainty. The truth is, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid is a gorgeous muddle, one that sacrifices a clear thesis in its rush to catalog the shifting mores and looming crises of a British society still coming to grips with colonialism, Thatcherism, and the sexual revolution.