Bend It Like Beckham

"Very Good"

Bend It Like Beckham Review


With preternatural good looks, a Spice Girl for a wife, and an uncanny ability to kick a soccer ball and make it land wherever he wants, David Beckham is one of the biggest stars of British sports. The soccer player was nice enough to lend his name to Bend It Like Beckham, a spirited, good-natured coming of age comedy that encompasses the immigrant experience, gender identity and family expectations with an engaging, natural ease.

The film follows Jesminder (Parminder K. Nagra), the child of Punjabi émigrés living in suburban London -- and one of Beckham's biggest fans. Posters of the footballer's exploits cover her walls, she wears his jersey when she plays soccer with the boys in the park, and she studies his moves during games on TV. But it's Jess's soccer skills that catch the eye of Juliette (Keira Knightley), who plays for a local women's soccer club. Jess finds herself recruited and suddenly realizes that soccer dreams of her own are not farfetched.

However, Jess's devout Sikh parents have their own ideas about how a young girl should behave. Jess is preparing for university, and unbecoming distractions such as soccer are not welcomed. When they discover Jess running around, exposing her legs in front of the team's coach Joe (JONATHAN RHYS-MEYERS) they forbid her from playing. And the preparations for her sister's wedding only underscore the liabilities of Jess's unladylike behavior. But the promise of an upcoming visit from an American soccer scout, and the potential to play professionally, keeps her sneaking back to the field for more game.

The key to Bend It Like Beckham's success is found in the way director Gurinder Chadha weaves together the conflicts between Indian and British cultures, exploring the joys and liabilities of both traditions and the way they shape their young women. Jess's open confrontations with her family stand in stark contrast with the repressed disapproval of Juliette's mother. Where Jess's parents put their foot down and demand that she give up soccer and learn to cook a proper Indian meal, Juliette's mom (a fantastic Juliet Stevenson) encourages her to trade her sports bra for an inflatable, cleavage enhancing one. Chadha links this contrast with lovely images, as when her camera hovers over a maelstrom of colorful wedding preparations in Jess's backyard while a solitary white English woman hangs her laundry next door.

But many of Beckham's lead performances are spotty at best. Knightley has real charm, and her athletic good looks are perfect for the part. But despite her charisma she chews up many of the scenes she appears in, contorting her face so there's no question about what she's thinking. Meyers burdens every line with a lazy, sarcastic delivery that undercuts any insight into his character. His scenes with Jess's father, excellently played by veteran actor Anupam Kher, ring particularly hollow. These lapses, and the overwrought, tacked-on happy ending, keep Beckham from scoring a hat trick.

But these problems aren't enough to sink Beckham. The film embraces its ensemble cast and diverse themes with amazing control, taking on the complexities of real life without getting weighed down by its many subplots. The soccer scenes tint the film with a bright energy while avoiding clichés of the "joy of victory, agony of defeat" variety. Bend It Like Beckham comes together with a warmth and soul that, like its namesake, looks good and scores with regularity.

The Bend It DVD features 10 deleted scenes, a commentary track from Chadha and the two other writers, and more -- including a video recipe for cooking Aloo Gobi at home.

Bend... and release.



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 / 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

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

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...

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.