Urban Cinefile
"The film has SUCH a good heart, and such a powerful effect, particularly on women of a certain generation"  -Cate Blanchett on Paradise Road
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Sunday July 12, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Eighteen-year old Jess (Parminder K Nagra) is an Indian Londoner whose parents expect her to study law, learn to cook chapattis and settle down with a nice Indian boy. Trouble is, Jess loves soccer. She runs rings around the lads at the local park and dreams of playing like her hero, David Beckham. When her skills are spotted by Juliet (Keira Knightley) - a fellow soccer-lover who plays for a local women’s team - Jess gets a chance at the big time. If only she and Jules can bend their parents’ rules, and not both fall for their out-of-bounds coach (Jonathan Rhys Meyers).

Review by Shannon J Harvey:
Competing with My Big Fat Greek Wedding for “cross-cultural feel-good film of the year,” Bend It Like Beckham is a refreshing, uplifting, heart-warming coming-of-age comedy from Gurinder Chadha, who created the same giddy confusion in Bhaji On The Beach and What's Cooking? Sweet without being schmaltzy, Chadha blends the story of two girls who share the same problem - parents who want them to conform to cultural customs – into a hip, contemporary urban film about friendship, love, and bending the rules of tradition.

Wisely, Chadha never allows east-meets-west politics to undermine her film’s hip good nature. Her light, airy, yet imperfect script moves quickly and is full of crowd pleasing witticisms like, “there's a reason Sporty Spice is the only one without a fella.” Beckham's greatest strength, however, is its largely unknown cast, lead by newcomer Parminder K Nagra, who charms with her innocent face and puppy dog eyes. Juliet Stevenson almost steals the show as Juliet’s mother, who suspects she might be playing for the other team (if you catch my drift). 

Yet it’s the Bollywood stars that comprise Jess’s extended family who really steal the show, led by veteran Anupam Kher as her reserved father and Shaheen Khan as her fuss-pot mother.

Chadha, an Indian-born Londoner herself, has obviously put a lot of her experience - including her own charming family - into the film, as abundantly clear on her commentary with co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges. Chadha’s enthusiasm is as infectious as her film, even if she doesn’t seem to know when to blow the whistle with all the comparisons between football and life. 

The behind the scenes featurette, She Shoots She Scores, interlaces cast and crew interviews, scenes from the film, and repetitive pearls of Indian wisdom such as “aim high and you can achieve anything.”

The deleted scenes, particularly the long-winded camera fight and dance sequences are fun, but deleted with good reason. Watch to the end of the overlong Music Video to see Victoria and David Beckham – good sports lending their name to the film - make asses of themselves singing the “Olay, Olay” soccer anthem. Chadha even lives her fantasy of being a cooking show host and demonstrates (under the watchful eye of her mum and aunty) how to cook Aloo Gobi.

With sweet, simple, succinct extras matching this infectious little film, Bend It Like Beckham on DVD has you cheering for more. Who wants to cook Aloo Gobi when you can bend it like Beckham? Here you get both.

Published January 9, 2003

Email this article




CAST: Parminder K Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anupam Kher, Juliet Stevenson, Archie Panjabi, Shaznay Lewis, Frank Harper, Shaheen Khan, Ameet Chana.

DIRECTOR: Gurinder Chadha

RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16:9 enhanced; Dolby 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Behind the scenes featurette; Commentary by director Gurinder Chadha and co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges; Deleted Scenes; Who wants to cook Aloo Gobi? Featurette; Music videos; Trailers; Aloo Gobi recipe;

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: (rental) January 8, 2003 (sell-thru) July 9, 2003

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020