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Bend It Like Beckham

A movie directed by Gurinder Chadha

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Warm and Winning!

  • Nov 13, 2003
  • by
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 between parents and children, males and females, and Western versus East Asian cultures.

Parminder Nagra plays Jesminder (Jess for short), the younger daughter of an Indian family living near London. Unlike her sister and many of her friends, her dreams deal not with gaining a husband and having children but playing professional soccer. As if to underscore the philosophical divide, the portrait of a Sikh religious figure dominates the living room of the family home while a poster of her idol David Beckham is the most prominent feature of her room, with both images being on the receiving end of various prayers and confidences. Not surprisingly, Jess' traditionally-minded family does not view her obsession with football as a positive goal (no pun intended).

When she is recruited by Jules (Keira Knightley) to play on a girl's tournament team, Jess tries to balance lessons in traditional Indian cooking with her mother with surreptitious training and games. Jules has her concerns with the possibility of impressing an American scout, and a mother that frets over the possibility of her daughter's passion for athletics turning her into a lesbian. Toss a mutual affection that both girls have for their Irish soccer coach and you have a wealth of opportunities for confrontation, misinterpretation and cultural conflict.

The beauty of the film is that it handles this collection of familial, generational and cultural disconnects with a loving warmth and humor that alienates no one. Differing views and goals aside, the respect and affection between all of the characters is never in doubt, and it makes for a most entertaining story. It's a keeper!

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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 . 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 …
review by . August 06, 2003
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 reasonsBend It Like Beckham was directed by Gurinder …
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Michael Meredith ()
Ranked #521
Self-styled writer, traveller, philosopher, political pundit, photographer, loving husband, devoted father, grandpa, son, advisor, eBusiness professional. Maybe someday I'll discover what I really … 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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