Bend It Like Beckham

Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Parminder K Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Anupam Kher
Director: Gurinder Chadha

If you liked BHAJI ON THE BEACH and WHAT’S COOKING, you’re going to love Gurinder Chadha’s next feature film BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM.

The Bharmas are a Sikh family living in a nice semi in Hounslow on the Heathrow flight path. Mr B works at the airport and Mrs B makes a fantastic Punjabi dinner. Eldest sister Pinky is engaged to be married and spends her time shopping for accessories on the High Street, while her younger sister Jess has other things in mind. She wants to be the next David Beckham.

From the opening dream sequence – victory on the pitch analysed in the studio by Gary Lineker, John Barnes and Alan Hansen – the film follows Jess in her difficult task of trying to balance duty and dream. As you’d predict, Jess’s parents feel it is time she left the football behind and knuckled down to some serious study to guarantee a safe and secure life as an accountant or solicitor. Her sister just thinks the fact she’s not aping over the boys is weird enough.

Forced to play in secret Jess makes friends with Jules (Keira Knightley) who persuades her to join a female team coached by Irish Joe (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) who has given up a professional career through injury. Jess excels in the team and found out once by her parents, has to invent ever more sneaky ways of playing for the team on the sly.

As most female sports movies dictate, a bit of a love triangle emerges, but it doesn’t detract from the humour and fun of this lovely film. There are excellent performances all round, especially both girls, as well as Jules’s mother (played by Juliet Stevenson) who has her own prejudices about women in sport – ‘I mean look what they say about Sporty Spice – she’s the only one without a fella.’

5 out of 6 stars

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