108 of 115 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2003
I almost missed seeing this wonderful little film on the big screen; I caught the last showing of the last day in our local art-house theater. I can't believe I almost robbed myself of the pleasure of seeing "Bend it Like Beckham", quite honestly my favorite movie to come out this year so far. It has action, romance, comedy, drama, lots of color and music and in the end a great message about acceptance and following your dreams. What more could you want?
Parminder Nagra stars as Jess, a Londoner of Indian descent who has loved playing soccer (or football, to the rest of the world) all her life. She lives and breathes her sport, so much so that every night she tells all her hopes and dreams to a giant poster of British soccer phenom David Beckham that hangs above her bead. Her parents, though, are less than approving, and when Jess uncovers a female soccer team that is willing to let her play in "real matches" she must weigh fulfilling her dreams against tearing her family apart. There is also the matter of her gorgeous Irish coach (Jonathan Rhys-Myers) and her new best friend (Keira Knightly); two girls and one cute guy can sometimes cause problems.
The script is more deeply layered than you might expect; I especially liked the interaction between Jess and her parents. Jess' mom is horrified by her daughter's passion because she feels nice Indian girls should be thinking of marriage and not "running around half naked in front of men", but her father for a subtler reason; he still remembers when he came to England and was not allowed to play cricket because of his race. He cannot bear the idea of sport breaking Jess' heart too.
The supporting cast is uniformly great; with standouts being Juliet Stevenson as the mother of Jess' new friend ("There is a reason Sporty Spice is the only one without a boyfriend!") and Jonathan Rhys-Myers as the coach. Rhys-Myers, in fact, spends what screen time he has looking incredibly sexy and practically daring the audience to call him on his Irish accent. Everyone else plays their roles to perfection and a good time is had by all, including the audience. Highly recommended!
68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2003
What brilliant film! I absolutely adored it! Anyone who dismisses this film as a "soccer flick" definitely needs to give it a second look. Despite it's soccer-themed title, "Bend It Like Beckham" is a fabulous and heart-warming story about family, traditions, friendship, love, fulfilling your dreams, and - yes - soccer (or football to non-US audiences).
In the center of the story is Jessminder Bhamra (Parminder Nagra), a young Indian girl living in England who desperately wants to be a football (soccer) player. On the one hand, she is incredibly talented, but on the other, she has very traditional parents who believe that Jess should (a) go to university, (b) become a solicitor, and (c) marry a nice Indian boy. But Jess has dreams of her own and when she is approached by Jules Paxton (Keira Knightley) while playing soccer with the boys at a local park, she secretly joins Jules' local all-girls "football" team. Jules and Jess become close friends but conflicts arise when both girls fall for the same boy - their coach Joe (the handsome Jonathan Rhys-Meyers).
There are many, many highlights to this film. First of all, it is incredibly entertaining and funny. There are definitely parallels to "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" as Jess' family life is thrown into chaos as they plan for her sister Pinky's "big fat Indian wedding" (complete with quirky, colorful relatives and friends). Secondly, it has a very talented cast led by newcomer Parminder Nagra (who is wonderful and earnest as the young woman in conflict between her dreams and her family traditions), the beautiful Keira Knightley (who will soon become a household name once "The Pirates of the Caribbean" opens this summer), handsome heartthrob Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (rumored to be in the running to be the next James Bond), the hilarious Juliet Stevenson (as Jules' prissy mom who is appalled that her daughter would rather play sports than go shopping with her) and Shaheen Khan (as Jess' no-nonsense mom who is equally appalled that her daughter would rather play sports than learn the finer art of Indian cooking). Thirdly, the production values, script and acting are top-notch, bringing to mind similarly quirky, enjoyable coming-of-age and feel-good films like "Muriel's Wedding" and "Princess Diaries."
I honestly cannot find fault with this film. I came into the theater without any pre-conceived expectations and came out loving it and wanting to see it again! This movie is definitely on my DVD must-have list. I can't wait to own it so that I can watch it again and again. Anglophiles, soccer fans and anyone who enjoys top-notch romantic comedies must see this movie. It is a film that crosses cultural boundaries and will make you smile and laugh from beginning to end. What a gem!
63 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2003
There has not been a better feel-good movie released this year than Gurinder Chadra's "Bend It Like Beckham." Made up of equal parts "Monsoon Wedding" (moving the Hindu family from India to England) and "Breaking Away" (substituting soccer for cycling and girls for boys), "Beckham" is guaranteed to have you leaving the theater lighter of heart and step than when you entered. At the heart of the film is Jess (Parminder Nagra), whose love of soccer horrifies her devout Hindu family and even endangers her sister's wedding into an even more traditional family. Encouraging Jess is her new friend Jules (Keira Knightley), star of the local girls' soccer team, who tells entrancing tales of professional women's soccer in America. But their shared attraction to Joe (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), the team's brooding coach, soon causes trouble. Meanwhile, Jules' prattling mother (Juliet Stevenson) starts jumping to conclusions about what she perceives as her daughter's masculine behavior. It's no surprise to know that all these conflicts get resolved happily, with whipped cream and a cherry on top. That's the pleasure of a movie like "Bend It Like Beckham;" you go to see something that will make you feel good, and you get it, only seldom do you get it done so expertly. (The set of "Beckham" must have been a happy place to work, judging from the outtakes shown during the end credits.) "Bend It Like Beckham" takes us to its own sunny little world, and for two hours persuades us absolutely of its reality, and of the possibility of realizing all your dreams. What could be more fun than that?
58 of 69 people found the following review helpful
BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM refers to the ball-control skill of English football - uh, "soccer" to you Yanks - superstar David Beckham, who plays for mighty Manchester United. Beckham has no role in this film except as the hero of Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra (Parminder Nagra), the English-born teenaged daughter of middle-class Indian immigrants living in the London suburb of Hounslow under the approach to Heathrow, where Dad works. The girl's mother (Shaheen Khan) wants Jess to learn how to cook a complete Indian dinner, i.e. with meat and veg, marry a nice Indian boy as her older sister is soon to do, and go to the university. All Jess wants is to play football on the green with the lads. The conflict over career paths escalates when Jess is invited to play for the Hounslow Harriers, a girls' football club, by its star player Juliette (Keira Knightley). The Harriers are coached by Joe (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), a young Irishman permanently sidelined by a leg injury. Joe quickly learns that, on the football field, Jess is positively "brilliant", and perhaps what American talent scouts are looking for.
If you loved MONSOON WEDDING and MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, then this is your cup of Earl Grey. The film is bursting with energy and populated with an attractive and engaging cast. Nagra is effervescent in the lead as Jess. In a supporting role, Juliet Stevenson is perhaps the best as Juliette's totally clueless Mom, Paula. Anupam Kher as Jess's father starts out low key, but he grows on you as the film progresses.
After having seen BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM and MONSOON WEDDING, I'm convinced that Indian nuptials are exuberant riots of color, sound, and merriment, and that a sari is the most graceful of female garments. Please don't disabuse me of the notions.
Much of BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM is predictable, including a love triangle, but there are some unexpected comedic elements stemming from wrongly perceived sexual preferences that add extra spice to an already eminently entertaining film. As a puzzled member of the Bhamra extended family points out to an overwrought Paula, "Jess isn't Lebanese."
Unless it becomes a phenomenon like MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM is likely to stay in limited release. Seek it out for a feel-good outing. Trust me.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2002
I saw this film on a trip to London in the spring of 2002 and have been anxiously awaiting it's release on DVD ever since. As the other reviewers have pointed out, this is only somewhat about soccer...it's really about following your dreams and trying to appease a traditional family that loves you but just doesn't understand why you want what you want. The first time you see this, you may very well miss some of the dialog because you'll be laughing so hard and yet, it's beautifully touching...even inspiring in the midst of the gales of laughter.
I was concerned that this film would never make it to the US (although I wouldn't be surprised if the title changes...never mind that Beckham is not exactly a household word in this country...I would never have know what "bend it" means if I hadn't seen this movie). It is, in some respects, so much about things quintessentially English (combined with things quintessentially Indian), that I wasn't sure that American audiences would get it. I'm thrilled to find that the studio is at least taking a chance that we will (certainly the reviews below show that I'm not the only American who loved it!). I can't wait for it to show up on a DVD that I can actually view in this country!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I finally saw this after seeing Bride and Prejudice a few weeks ago. I can see what all the fuss was about, especially since this was a "small movie" when released in the US that did well mostly on word of mouth. Truly I wish I had seen it in the theater.
Parminder Nagra was wonderful as Jess, the Indian girl who plays great football (soccer), but all her family cares about is marrying off her sister and getting Jess ready for the same route by teaching her to cook an Indian meal and wear more makeup. Jess is torn between loyalty to her family, who do genuinely love her and mean well, and her desire to see how far her football talent can take her.
Keira Knightly has one of her first ever roles (maybe her first ever role) as the girl who befriends Jess and encourages her to join a women's team. She shows Jess that their dream of playing women's soccer professionally could come true.
While the main storyline is compelling, by itself it would be teh stuff of a Disney or ABC Family network movie. What really makes the movie wonderful is the time and attention given to so many of the supporting characters--Jess' family aren't simple old-fashioned obstacles to her dream, they have real reasons for wanting to protect her from herself to keep her from getting hurt as they have been in the past. The actors who play her father and mother are especially good.
Another supporting standout is Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, who plays the coach Joe. Every time Jess' playing seems to have hit an immovable obstacle, Joe takes a step that keeps it going. It's not easy, as Jess points out to him at one point, but her family would never have come around at all without Joe's polite but insistent nudges.
Of course there are feel-good football playing sequences, and of course the sister's wedding is a blur of ceremony, dancing and even a pointless fight in a hallway (The director's commentary says she insisted on leaving the scene in because a fight always seems to break out at an Indian wedding and no one is ever sure what it's about).
Gurinder Chadha wrote and directed the movie and it's obviously a labor of great love. She does a wonderful job of capturing the tension of the generation of Asians who have grown up in England with English customs, but still pulled toward the customs of their oftentimes unseen homeland. I loved the little scenes that showed Jess and her peers navigating between the two worlds, like when she and her sister smoothly shift from talking about boys to giving a traditional greeting to the mother of a friend.
And like Bride and Prejudice, this movie has a fabulous soundtrack and is going on my list of CDs I want to get one of these days!
Also, on the DVD, don't miss the director's commentary because it adds a lot to many of the little touches in the movie--you'll be able to spot her relatives playing relatives in the wedding scenes, and the many tributes to her deceased father that appear in the movie.
Worth watching, and for me, probably worth watching again!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I am not a soccer fan. That said, this movie could turn anyone into a soccer fan. Good-natured and downright hilarious, this look at a young woman trying to break free of traditional east Indian values to indulge her love of and exceptional gift for the game is terrific entertainment. Parminder K. Nagra as heroine Jess is lovely--vulnerable, yet feisty. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as coach Joe is not only good in his role, he's one of the most photogenic young men to grace the screen in recent times. (Watch out for this young man! He's got real star quality.) Keira Knightley as team-mate soccer-player Jules is delightful, as is Frank Harper playing her dad. The one jarring note in the casting is Juliet Stephenson (of Truly, Madly, Deeply) who is out of her depths and not entirely credible as the lower-class saleswoman mother of Jules. Otherwise, this is a laugh-a-thon. Don't miss the credits! They're the perfect grace note to a wonderfully enjoyable film.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2003
I will never understand Soccer. It's probably cause I was born and raised in America. It may also have to do with my proclivity to be bad at sports. But I will give anything a try once. So when the US women's soccer team was in the world cup (I guess that's what it's called) I watched the whole thing and was bored to tears.
You see I can understand why people want to play the sport. There is definitely a lot of skill involved. But after three hours of watching chicks run up and down a field, nobody scoring a goal, I was ****ed. When the US team finally won with a kick-off I felt even more cheated. All that skill only to win the game thru dumb luck. Ehhh, I could take it or leave it.
All that to say, I still liked BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, a schnazzy import from Great Britian.
BECKHAM is the story of Jess (Parminder K. Nagra, King Girl) a beautiful young Indian girl living in or around London. She has aspirations of being a great soccer player, but her Mother (Anupam Kher, Jaal:The Trap) wants her to settle down and marry. When Jess meets Juliette (Keira Knightly, The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) a young lady who offers her a chance to play with a real soccer team, Jess's life is torn between the culture of her family and the love of the game. Which one wins out? You'll have to watch the film and see.
What's nice about a film like this is it gives a glimpse of a London we rarely see in the movies. There is a huge Indian population in the city and it such a fascinating culture. BECKHAM excels in giving us a glimpse into the tradition, and pageantry of this ancient culture without making things too over the top. I'm sure if you look at any culture, or walk of life you will find regular people who do some pretty funny things and BECKHAM showcases the Indian culture with such love and affection, but also with that touch of sweet quirkiness.
It also shows us how tradition and religion still survive in our modern world. How cultures that were once separated by miles now live in the house next door. There is a great shot in the film of Jess's family having a celebration. It's loud and boisterous and over the next hedge there's a regular British lady hanging up laundry. It's the kind of shot the say a lot without saying a word.
Parminder K. Nagra is phenomenal as Jess. I love how the script is constantly forcing her to up the ante. Pushing her character to grow up. I like how it's full of awkward moments, silly moments, tragic moments, and in the end it's so real. A lesser film would have made this movie about winning the big game. BECKHAM'S stakes are much higher. Do you follow your dreams, or follow your family? Can you do both? While the movie ties these concepts up quite nicely, it only because of Nagra's sweet and yet strong performance that the movie takes on a life of it's own and defies any contrivances.
My only qualm with the movie is a pointless and ineffective outing of a minor character. It serves no purpose in the film and in the end stops the film cold. It seemed so unnecessary. It didn't enhance the character any more. It seemed tacked on because in films like these it is necessary to have the token gay guy. But hey it's such a minor flaw that I will stop harping on it.
Director Gurinder Chadha has crafted a really sweet, good-natured film. I really liked it a lot and I hate soccer.
Hey if I liked BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM I think most people will really like it as well.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Growing up in the UK I was always more interested in rugby than soccer and had to endure FA Cup matches and World Cup action with my family. So, when I heard about BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, it seemed like it was about as far away as a movie could be from something I would like.
Little did I know that this engaging comedy is precisely the type of movie that someone who lists SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY and NOTTING HILL would enjoy.
The story of an Indian girl who breaks with her cultural tradition and goes against her parents wishes to join a girls soccer team is handled with a light personal touch. Also interwoven among the inevitable romance and hijinks of teenage girls discovering themselves is an interesting insight into the Indian culture as transplanted into England in what director Gurinder Chadha calls one of her most personal of movies.
Newcomer Parminder Nagra plays Jess, the Indian girl in question , who goes behind her parents backs to join the Hounslow Harriers - a top girls team which lists among its players a spunky tomboy named Jules (played by hot Hollywood actress and rising sex symbol Keira Knightley) who spots Jess's talents after seeing her kick a ball around with her friends at the local park.
The two immediately strike up a friendship that is compromised by a mutual attraction to the same man - their coach Joe (played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers).
Soccer actually plays a relatively minor role in the picture, merely serving as a backdrop on which to paint the story of friendship, tradition, culture and self-discovery. And although the action scenes are well handled, the best parts of the movie are the parental interactions with Jess and Jules and the interactions between the two of them and between Jess and Joe.
Engagingly and inifinately watchable with some toe jigging musical tracks the DVD includes a commentary from Chadha, a making of featurette, deleted scenes, featurette on the Indian dish Aloo Gobi which is featured in the movie, music, ottakes and a recipe for Aloo Gobi. Also of interest is the inclusion of more humorous bloopers over the closing credits.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2004
"Bend It Like Beckham" reminds me of the best of those 80's teeny-bopper movies directed by John Hughes. Everything takes place in a bubble-gum colored world where everyone is attractive, there are some easily-resolved conflicts that occasionally take away from the mostly happy proceedings, and vast amounts of plot are summarized by montages set to bouncy pop tunes. Nothing wrong with this, however. "Bend It Like Beckham" is an absolute treat from beginning to end. My wife and I found ourselves totally won over by the cornball cheesiness even as we were making fun of it, and at the end, as embarrassing as this is to admit, we applauded (and we saw this, by the way, in our living room, not in a theatre).
Watch this movie and enjoy.