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Bend It Like Beckham

A movie directed by Gurinder Chadha

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Whether You Call it "Football" or "Soccer," Bend it Like Beckham is a Superstar!

  • Mar 12, 2003
Pros: cute story, funny

Cons: see review

The Bottom Line: IT'S SO CUTE!!!!

Man, I thought I was going to get a jump on all of you by reviewing this before anyone else. I saw Bend it Like Beckham about a year ago in London was overjoyed to learn that it will soon be released in the States. But, alas, three other people have already written about BLB. I'm not as cutting-edge as I thought I was.

In the rest of the world, what Americans call "soccer," is called "football." So, I'll use the word "football" in this review.

David Beckham, the star of England's national team and Manchester United (the New York Yankees of English football), is like Michael Jordan with more sex appeal. He and his wife Victoria (Posh Spice) are like a second Royal Family, as the tabloids follow the every move of "Posh and Becks."

Reviewers often say something like, "It's the feel-good movie of the year!" Honestly, this film was like a drug for me and my friend Eleanor. We left the Camden Town Odeon with our heads in the clouds. It made me want to go out and run a marathon. So, even though the movie has many faults, I found them easy to ignore.

The two main characters are Jess Bhamra (Parminder K. Nagra) and Jules Paxton (Keira Knightley). Both of these schoolgirls love to play football, but their parents disapprove. Jess' mother wants her to learn to cook Indian food, marry an Indian man, and focus on her schoolwork. Similarly, Jules' mother is concerned that her tomboy daughter is not dating boys and wears sports bras. A flamboyant woman who works in a lingerie shop, Jules' mother (Juliet Stevenson) gets some of the funniest lines in the movie such as "Just remember: there's a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one without a fellow!"

The UK is actually quite far behind the United States in terms of women's sports. I played cricket for my host university when I was in London, but when I went to a sporting goods shop to buy the white trousers, the salesman asked if they were for my brother. One reason I think this film will do well in America is that the girls long to come to the States to play in our women's professional league. The girls live in West London near Heathrow, which allows for some conveniently symbolic, wistful, airplane shots.

Jess plays football with boys in the park on the way home from running errands for her mother. Jules discovers her one day as she's jogging and asks her to join her local team. Even after a visit from her coach, who emphasizes her immense talent, Jess' parents forbid her from playing on the team.

A new trend in films is that women are keeping themselves down. As in Real Women Have Curves, it is the mothers in these two families who are unsupportive of their daughters' dreams. Jules' father likes the fact that his daughter enjoys football as it gives them something to talk about. He even sets up a goal for her in the backyard and tries to explain to his wife that they should be glad that Jules is not running around with boys. Jess' father is also a very sweet man, although he goes along with Mrs. Bhamra's prohibition.

Although she is a good girl who excels in school, Jess eventually resorts to sneaking out against her parents' wishes to play football with the local club, the Hounslow Harriers. Their coach Joe (Jonathan Rhys-Myers) believes in Jess' talent and pushes her to disobey her parents. Along the way, there's a bit of conflict between the girls as both of them are in love with their gorgeous, Irish coach.

The one problem I had with this film is that Jess' parents' reaction to her joining a football club is seen as "an ethnic thing." The Harriers have a very important match on the day of Jess' sister's wedding. Joe and some of her teammates seem to think that if Jess were white, she'd be allowed to play in the match, which is completely ridiculous. She's playing in a recreational league! No one's family, even the most casual, would allow one daughter to miss another daughter's wedding for a sporting event!

The supporting characters are fun, including Jess' sister's slutty friends and the incredibly sweet Tony, Jess' best friend, who offers to marry her so Jess' parents will allow her to go to America for university.

Some might label Bend it Like Beckham as a chick flick, but I think it has a perfect mixture of (stereotypically) guy and girl elements. There are pretty girls playing sports, but it's also a slightly cheesy story featuring an attractive man with a cute accent.


Movie Mood: Feel-good Movie
Viewing Method: Other
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Plot

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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 …
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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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