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Bend It Like Beckham

A movie directed by Gurinder Chadha

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So Many Cultures...So Many Smiles

  • Aug 6, 2003
  • by
Like everybody else, I appreciate knowing in advance if a film is poor so I can avoid it; also, I prefer to "discover" an especially enjoyable film rather than hear or read raves about it in advance. This is one of three films I saw for the first time without knowing anything about them, the other two being Good Will Hunting and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Although I consider none a "great" film, I thoroughly enjoyed all three but for different reasons

Bend It Like Beckham was directed by Gurinder Chadha and co-stars Parminder K. Nagra (Jess Bhamra) and Keira Knightley (Jules Paxton), with Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Joe), Anupan Kher (Jess's father), and Juliet Stevenson (Jules's mother Paula) cast in important supporting roles. The film examines the struggles of two teenage girls to overcome parental resistance to their playing on the Hounslow Harriers league football (aka soccer) team. Their ultimate goal is to play for a college or university in the United States. Until a career-ending injury, their Harriers coach (Joe) played on a major professional team in England. Both Jess and Jules are attracted to their demanding but caring young coach. I view their feelings for him as being more substantial than teenage infatuation.

As is also true of so many other sports movies (e.g. Hoosiers), there is a Big Game to Be Won and, of course, dramatic tension increases as it approaches. Given the fact that her older sister's (Big Fat Indian) wedding is scheduled on the same day, will Jess be allowed to play? Will her friendship with Jules be re-established? With or wirhout Jess, will the Harriers win? If they do, how will that victory affect Joe's career opportunities as a player or coach? Will Jess and/or Jules be offered an athletic scholarship? The acting is consistently outstanding. Chadha brilliantly delineates the traditional values of Jess's family (especially her mother's), some of which differ significantly from those of Jules's family (especially her mother's). Each girl lives in two worlds, both of which compete for her loyalty. Jess and Jules struggle to keep their parents happy while working so hard to help the Harriers win the league championship. As is also true of Good Will Hunting, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and Tortilla Soup, there is an abundance of humor in this film. Many moments are hilarious, including the not-to-be-missed final credits. The film is good-natured and warmhearted throughout, even when misunderstandings threaten relationships, notably Jess's friendship with Jules. This film has little (if any) social significance but offers wholesome, delightful entertainment of very high quality. How refreshing!

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More Bend It Like Beckham reviews
review by . June 29, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
Entertaining and Inspiring
Bend it Like Beckham is a British comedy flick about a talented girl named Jesminder (aka Jess) who loves to play soccer and has one really big problem: her rigid Punjabi Sikh family wants her to settle down, learn to cook, find a suitable husband, and quit playing sports. Amidst the usual trials of friendship and love, Jesminder, struggling to satisfy both her family and herself, ends up lying to her parents in order to go to her soccer team meetings and matches. But of course, as the saying goes, …
Quick Tip by . July 14, 2010
This movie goes beyond soccer and is really a story about growing up in a changing England.
review by . March 05, 2009
I caught this movie while flipping through the cable channels and was instantly mesmerized.  It is about a teenage Indian girl (nicknamed Jesse) in London who loves soccer and hopes to play for the British woman's team.  The problem is her family still believes that women are married early and have many kids and do not delve into distractions like games.  Therefore, Jesse must sneak away to attend practices.  She develops a friendship with one of her teammates and generally loves …
review by . January 02, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
This charming little movie combines sports, young love, and family conflict to make an utterly entertaining comedy/drama. Jess (Parminder Nagra) dreams of playing professional soccer and must hide the fact that she plays on a girls' team from her Indian family. They want her to settle down with a proper Indian husband and be a traditional wife. Teammate Jules (Keira Knightley) introduces Jess to a new world of fun, but they are both attracted to their handsome coach (Jonathan Rhys-Myers).     Th …
review by . March 15, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
This is a delighful coming of age movie about two 18 year old girls in London who love soccer (football). One, an Indian Sikh teenager, (Jessie) has a poster of soccer star Beckham in her room, which she talks to, expressintg her desire to become a professional soccer player - hardly a goal her proper Sikh family would approve of. Mom wants her to learn how to cook in the Indian way, marry and have children. Dad, an airline pilot, wants her to go to university and become a lawyer - then get married …
review by . August 17, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
I caught this movie while flipping through the cable channels and was instantly mesmerized. It is about a teenage Indian girl (nicknamed Jesse) in London who loves soccer and hopes to play for the British woman's team. The problem is her family still believes that women are married early and have many kids and do not delve into distractions like games. Therefore, Jesse must sneak away to attend practices. She develops a friendship with one of her teammates and generally loves the new world she has …
review by . September 27, 2004
Parminder Nagra is superb as Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra, a London born teen but raised in the Indian orthodox Sikh religion. The youngest daughter of the Family Bhamra (Anupam Kher & Shaheen Khan), Jess is disobedient to her parents and the traditional, old school ways of Sikh.     Jess just happens to be a very gifted football (soccer) player and hatches a plan to go behind her parents backs to play on the London girl's professional football team along with her friend and teammate …
review by . January 17, 2004
Bend It Like Beckham is a thorougly entertaining movie about Jess, a girl who just wants to play football while her parents want her to be a traditional Indian girl and marry a nice Indian boy. While playing football in the park with her guy friends, Jess is approached by Juliet, a caucasian girl who plays for a girl's team and thinks Jess would be a good addition. This sets up the familiar plot where young child tries to follow her dream, gets in trouble with the parents, before a successful conclusion …
review by . November 13, 2003
This is a wonderful story about a girl wanting to pursue her dreams of soccer stardom. But don't make the mistake of thinking that you should have more than a passing interest in the game in order to understand and relate to this film. All you need to know is that the Beckham of the title is the Michael Jordon/Wayne Gretzky or English soccer and that he has the ability to kick a ball along a curved trajectory, hence "bending it". The basic themes are far more universal, centering around the differences …
review by . October 03, 2003
BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM is an example of what films that deal with ethnic issues can acomplish. Made with great authority and tenderness by Gurinder Chadka, this endearing movie is about coming of age, about girls in sports, about traditional family values and customs (both East Indian and British), and in general embraces all the spectrum of the day to day traumas and triumphs we all encountered as youngsters. Chadka has elected to use neophytes as actors for the young girls (Parminder Nagra, Keira …
About the reviewer
Robert Morris ()
Ranked #169
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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An Indian family in London tries to raise their soccer-playing daughter in a traditional way. Unlike tarty elder sister, Pinky, who is preparing for an Indian wedding and a lifetime of cooking the perfect chapatti, Jess' dream is to play soccer professionally like her hero David Beckham. Wholeheartedly against Jess' unorthodox ambition, her parents eventually reveal that their reservations have more to do with protecting her than with holding her back. When Jess is forced to make a choice between tradition and her beloved sport, her family must decide whether to let her chase her dream...and a soccer ball.
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