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Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

  Directed by: Gurinder Chadha
Starring: Keira Knightley, Parminder Nagra, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Links: Bend It Like Beckham on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"A well-worn plot, done well." - a review by mino

There are a lot of movie genres that I'm a sucker for that, probably, I shouldn't be. One great example is the 'feelgood British comedy' — exemplified by, say, Billy Elliot (2000) or The Full Monty (1997). You know full well on your way into the cinema that you're going to see total pap: but you feel so happy when you come out, you don't much care. Bend It Like Beckham is another prime example of this type of 'so damn predictable it's not funny' type of film, which only the Poms can really pull off. When anyone else tries it, it's just lame: no-one does it quite like the Brits. They can take it as a consolation: sure, their empire has crumbled, their weather stinks, and they're ruled by a bunch of syphillitic halfwits, but at least they can make a great feelgood flick. Bravo to you, Mother England.

Bend It Like Beckham is pretty much the sort of movie that, when it starts, you know exactly how it's going to end, and everything that's going to happen in it, but you don't care because it's so well-done. It's the story of Jess (Parminder Nagra), an Indian girl living in London who worships football (soccer, that is), and particularly Manchester United star David Beckham. This doesn't sit well at all with her very conservative Sikh parents, who consider such pursuits not only rather frivolous in general, but particularly so for a girl. Jess manages to get picked up by a local girls' soccer team, and has to keep it from her parents.

Yeah, yeah, I know: you've heard it all before. I'm pretty sure that, given a crayon, a sheet of butcher's paper, and the premise above, you could sketch out a movie plot in about ten minutes, and you'd find that you'd covered most of the same points as Bend It Like Beckham, in much the same order. It's not exactly breaking new ground here, but really, who cares?

The humour of a traditional Punjabi family dealing with a soccer-playing daughter is handled with a very deft touch — though it's predictably feelgood, the movie never gets too mushy. Despite the very real risk of creating a movie which has too many in-jokes and isn't really funny to audiences outside its target market (British people, obviously, and British Asians in particular), the comedy translates very well. There are probably some bits that sailed well over my non-beturbanned head, but the fact that I still found the movie funny really testifies how well-crafted it was.

Nagra is absolutely delightful as Jess, and Keira Knightley shines as her new best friend Jules. There's a whole weird lesbian subtext there that I would have liked to have seen explored, purely for my own reasons, but you can't have everything. The cast in general is very strong, with even the 'incidental' characters played to perfection. If I had to make a complaint, it would be that there's only so many times you can have the 'I want to play soccer and my parents won't let me!' message thrust in your face, but I guess that's kind of the point of the whole movie, so you can't really complain, can you?

If you don't go in expecting to be too challenged by Bend It Like Beckham, you should come out with a smile on your face.

mino gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 12 Nov 2002

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Reader comments

  1. La película me ha encantado. Es genial.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Irene on Wed 31 Mar 2004 17:36 #

  2. I love this movie, and I think Jonathan is the best.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Judit on Wed 31 Mar 2004 17:41 #

  3. 2best movie

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Jessica Hartzler on Thu 02 Jun 2005 10:03 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (3 ratings)

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