A lot of perfectly good film show their cards early, establish a unique premise and let the audience explore a topic at a leisurely pace, without much in terms of surprise. this film is not one of those films.
The first must-see film of the year.
This is a coming of age storyline that you've seen in one form or another for decades. It takes a truly unique voice to make yet another one worth watching.
Mathilde the Guild
Although I seem to have had higher expectations than I thought, the movie is super entertaining.
The film is about girls playing football (soccer in America). Jess is a Britidh Sikh teenager living in the London suburbs with her engaged sister and parents. When Jules discovers Jess, she invites her to play for the Hounslow Harriers and she does until her sister's wedding interferes with a tournament. Jess and Jules couldn't be anymore different. Jules is a white Briton who has a concerned mother played by Juliet Stevenson CBE. The film is about friendship and sportsmanship and family. It is a great family film and entertaining overall. The director is a woman and inspired to make this film herself. The film showcases Keira Knightley's acting abilities too. Her costar Parminder (Jess) is Magnificent.
Formula can work in several ways, but two seem to be predominant in our sentimental cinema system. One formula, perhaps found in a manipulative Katherine Heigl vehicle, travels down a bumpy path until it crashes into a nearby ditch. The dialogue, never witty to begin with, is littered with the clichés of the past. The plot, robotic in its determination to take a detour into Tinsel Town, causes an eye-roll instead of a deservedly smitten sigh. But then, there's the formula found in a Gene Kelly musical. We quickly figure out how everything is going to end (he'll get the girl! Come out on top! Defeat the "villain"!), but its ability to exude agreeable comedy and make the most of its befitting stars turns predictability into an art form. We want him to get the girl, to come out on top, to defeat his nemesis. Formula can work wonders, as long as it's done right."Bend It Like Beckham" is a formulaic coming-of-age dramedy, but never did I feel manipulated to smile, to laugh, to do anything pertaining to unbridled amusement. Years down the road, I may not remember the inner workings of its plot; what I will remember, though, is how much elation I felt during its quick 112 minutes. So lucrative is its formula that I turned into one of those middle-aged monsters who finds themselves unembarrassed to talk to the screen, begging the characters to make the right decisions.A radiant Parminder Nagra portrays Jesminder Bhamra, a British teenager of Indian descent. Though her family resides in London, still strong is their attachment to their strict culture. A picture of their maker hangs above the fireplace, judging every move; the mother (Shaheen Khan), conservative and close-minded, doesn't much care about education, preferring that her daughters learn how to cook a proper Indian meal and feed it to their (future) nice, Indian husband. But Jess feels trapped. She's a high school senior, bright, and completely in love with -- GASP -- soccer. While the other teenage girls in her culture have accepted their upcoming marital dilemma, Jess wants something more. She wants to receive a good education, to become the female David Beckham. Fearing the wrath of her domineering parents, she attends soccer practice under the guise that she's headed to a demanding job. Jess becomes close to a fellow teammate, Juliette (Keira Knightley), and soon develops a crush on her young coach, Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Before, her biggest concern was to avoid getting caught by her parents. Now, she not only has to worry about punishment; she also has to deal with the fact that Juliette fancies Joe too.On paper, "Bend It Like Beckham" sounds, expectedly, like tepid formula. But with its irrepressibly wonderful cast and knack for natural comedy, it's a notable success that gives us an excuse to abandon our problems and find escape in someone else's. It's a warm film, perhaps doped up with copious amounts of anti-depressant medication.The best thing about "Bend It Like Beckham" is Nagra, an appealing actress that gives Jess an immediately charismatic air. So often are we told to like the teen at the center of a coming-of-age movie; unusually, Nagra makes it easy for us to root for Jess. Delightfully supporting her are a spry, witty Knightley, a hilariously shrill Shaheen Khan, and Juliet Stevenson, who portrays Juliette's mother with extroverted comedic skill.It's rare to laugh out loud during a film, and "Bend It Like Beckham" provides plenty of gut- busters. Not because of a well-timed punchline, not because of a physical comedy mess -- because human interaction is funny, because clashing cultures can be funny. "Bend It Like Beckham" is a winner.
My daughter made me watch Bend it Like Beckham with her several years ago, and I found it to be one I can re-watch. It contains very little of the teenage romance and clothing angst that often fills young adult movies. What it does have is a lot of humanity and heart. This movie is made up of a multitude of small moments of cultural misunderstanding: some cute, some mean, some funny, all of which need to be resolved by Jess and her parents. It does a wonderful job of showing us the contrast between English and Hindu (living in England) middle class home life. It is about following dreams and using talents, within the cultural clash and racial prejudice of middle class suburban London. Set in Houndslow (a suburb near Heathrow airport) Jesminder Bhamra (Parminder Nagra) is an eighteen-ish girl caught between living in British society and living in a household still grounded in Hindu culture. Father is an airline pilot for (apparently) an Indian airline (he wears a turban in uniform). Jess is an extremely talented footballer (soccer) always running circles around the boys in the pickup matches in the park. She knows her soccer days will soon end with an arranged marriage and her mother's life ahead of her. She is unaware of any alternative, nor of any possible future as a girl soccer player. Enter Jules (Keira Knightley) a star player in a girl's league. She sees Jess beating up on the boys in the park and stops to watch on successive days then approaches her to join their team. Jess is stunned to learn there is such a thing as a girl's league. Jules also tells her there are even girl's pro teams in America. Jess joins her team and through teamwork and selflessness they become a deadly duo in scoring and assisting.Of course, there are problems: Jess has to keep the girl's team a secret from her parents, her mother is constantly demanding of Jess's time to do traditional tasks, her relationship with a white girl is cause for much gossip and malicious rumor within the Hindu community, she must bare her legs in public by wearing shorts, and there is a hint of romance with the coach (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) that causes a rift between Jess and Jules, conflicts and trust issues with her sister, and Jules's mother begins to think the girls are lesbian. Once her parents learn that she is playing on a team, they stand united that football is at an end and she will get married or go to university and then get married. Jess continues to sneak off and play until the championship game conflicts with her sister's wedding. But with the help of her cousins and her father, she gets away from the reception and plays the second half, returning to the wedding celebration wearing a huge smile that is not lost on her father.Poor father (Anupam Kher). He's the lynch pin of the story. As a young Hindu man in England he had been shunned on the cricket fields and quit on his dream in disgust. Now, he's caught between his daughter's dreams, talent and joy as a footballer; his assumption is that she will face the same indignities he had. He watches part of a match where Jess is obviously fouled by a white girl, but when Jess reacts badly it is she that draws the red card; thus enforcing her father's conclusion. There is also his wife's insistence that Jessminder must pursue a traditional life in the role of a subservient Hindu wife and mother. After the championship game, when the family discovers that Jess scored the winning goal, and has won a scholarship to play soccer in America, Father succumbs and refuses to deprive his daughter of the happiness that he threw away. At the end, both Jules's and Jess's families are saying goodbye at the airport. Jess's passionate kisses with the coach seemed ignored by her mother. I find this a script flaw. A Hindu mother (and most other mothers) would've reacted and could've been a nice comical ending moment. There was some predictability to the story, and I felt the end was a bit rushed. But all-in-all I found it an enjoyable and memorable movie from start to finish.
The premise was intriguing, if trite. Girl wants to play soccer, traditional family refuses, girl runs off and does it anyway. Unfortunately, the execution was mediocre and we only saw part of the movie.The very beginning was amusing. We see a televised soccer match with David Beckham on the team, there is trouble getting the ball through, and suddenly a female player gets the ball and scores an unlikely goal, to the world's adulation. Well, except for when several sports commentators talk to the girl's mother, who is critical of her being in the soccer game in the first place and showing her legs to thousands of people. It was the girl's imagination, of course-and real life intrudes when she is called down to deal with preparing for her sister's upcoming wedding.Unfortunately, then comes a bunch of shouting back and forth, clichéd and not well-acted. A standard clash of Indian and English cultures, and it quickly got tedious, so we gave the rest a miss. The idea could have been done much better.