Bend It Like Beckham

"Good"

Bend It Like Beckham Review


Liberated, Westernized daughters versus their traditional, ethnic mothers -- it's the trendiest genre in crowd-pleasing independent cinema. Pick an ethnic minority, embrace its clichés and use them for punchlines, then pit your female heroine (attractive, not gorgeous, with a realistic body type) in a position where she's torn between family and future.

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" milked the formula for $250 million. "Real Women Have Curves" was a modest hit, combining body-image themes with a story about a second-generation Los Angeles Latina who wanted to go to college instead of working in her sister's dress factory -- much to the chagrin of her old-fashioned mother.

Now comes the English import "Bend It Like Beckham," in which the soccer-fanatic daughter of Sikh immigrants pursues her sporty dreams behind the backs of her disapproving parents and -- to quote from the stock-language press kit -- "has to choose between tradition and following her heart."

Yet despite their feel-good predictability -- and probably because of their filmmakers' adoration of and appreciation for the cultures they portray -- these perfunctory pictures have a tendency to be totally entertaining, even if they are formulaic.

"Bend It" is an energetic romp in which talented teenage footballer heroine Jess Bhamra (Parminder K. Nagra) -- who idolizes Manchester United star David Beckham -- is recruited for an amateur female soccer league and soon has aroused the interest of scouts from America's pro women's soccer league.

Between the time Jess starts sneaking out to practice (dressing in street clothes but hiding her gym bag in the bushes in front of her parents' house) and the time The Big Game coincides with her sister's wedding (oh, what will she do?) there are many trifling but engaging plot developments.

Conservative, sari-wearing, melodramatic Mom bellows "You shouldn't be running around on a field with all these men, baring your legs!" Quiet, more sympathetic, turban-wearing Dad slowly comes around to aiding and abetting after seeing Jess play. Misunderstandings lead to family crises when the judgmental, old-country parents of Jess's future brother-in-law call off the wedding over what they perceive as Jess's inappropriate behavior.

Meanwhile, Jess's best friend (blonde, slender, adorable but credibly sporty Keira Knightley) has problems of her own -- namely a histrionic mother (Juliette Stevenson in a hilarious, cleavage-conscious, suburban-trash performance) who thinks soccer is turning her beautiful daughter into a lesbian. "Honey," Stevenson lectures, "all that I'm saying is, there's a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one without a fella!"

While they bond over the universal ailment of embarrassing mothers, the girls also have a catty falling out over -- what else? -- their mutual crushes on their sexy young coach with bedroom eyes and pouty lips (JONATHAN RHYS-MEYERS).

The attraction between Rhys-Meyers and Nagra is contrived and unconvincing, and the film has other problems too -- most notably, the zippy soccer game scenes are all fancy-footwork and rock-music montage sequences which inadvertently trumpet the implication that these actresses can't really play.

But Nagra and Knightly are irresistibly charming, and writer-director Gurinder Chadha ("What's Cooking?") knows how to rally an audience behind them with endearing comedy and an earnest message of feminine empowerment.



Bend It Like Beckham

Facts and Figures

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st August 2003

Box Office USA: $32.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $76.6M

Budget: $5M

Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Production compaines: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Kintop Pictures, Filmförderung Hamburg, UK Film Council

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 128 Rotten: 22

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jesminder 'Jess' Kaur Bhamra, as Juliette 'Jules' Paxton, as Joe, as Mr. Bhamra, Shaheen Khan as Mrs. Bhamra, as Alan Paxton, as Paula Paxton, as Tony, as Pinky Bhamra, as Meena, as Monica, Ace Bhatti as Nairobi Grandson

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.