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Bend It Like Beckham (2002)



Reviews and Comments

Bend It Like Beckham is a mostly charming comedy about an Indian girl named Jesminder who lives in England and wants to play football (soccer) against her parents' wishes. The plot is drawn from a variety of familiar formulas: the sports story, the coming of age story, the absorption of a family's culture into that of the country they live in, and so on.

The material feels fresh enough to transcend the cliches. It is likeable and genuine and once in a while funny. But it falls into a pattern that wears out before it has run its course: Jesminder plays football, her parents find out and disapprove; then she plays some more, and her parents find out and disapprove. Repeat. Will her parents See The Light and let her Follow Her Dream? There would be no suspense on this point in any case, but a better movie would make this transition feel more authentic. But the movie has done too good a job at portraying the parents as staunch traditionalists and not enough of one at coming to grips with changing times. Then there is the matter with Jasminder's relationship with others, including her best friend Juliette, the English girl who first coaxes her to try out for the local team. At one point they have a falling out, and it's too mechanical: one is irrational, and the other doesn't ever say what should be obvious to say.

With these things nagging at me, it is to the movie's credit that I more or less enjoyed it anyhow. As I said, it is a likeable movie with three likeable characters and a quirky supporting cast. If that's enough for you, consider this review a mild recommendation. But for a movie that wishes us to relate to it on an empathetic level, I wish it had delved more deeply into the principles and emotions at play.