BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM
Review by Michael Jacobson
Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anupam Kher,
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 112 Minutes
Release Date: September 30, 2003
boy’s gonna want to go out with a girl who’s got bigger muscles than
him…all I’m saying is that there’s a REASON why Sporty Spice is the only
one of them without a fellow.”
an Indian girl in England becomes torn between dreams of football glory (soccer,
to those of us in the States) and duty to family, there can only be one result:
the biggest word-of-mouth film success since My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
fact, Bend it Like Beckham followed almost the same pattern to a tee:
first arriving here and there in very limited release, people started
seeing it and talking about it. Critics
were praising it. People in cities
where the film wasn’t playing started hearing about it and asking for it. Finally, it enjoyed the full national release it always
deserved once distributors were convinced that it had been no hoax.
Moviegoers simply loved this picture.
wasn’t much originality in the way the film climbed to success, and to be
truthful, there’s not a lot in the content of the story, either.
The movie deals with themes that we’ve seen time and time again in
coming of age tales. In addition to
immediacy versus tradition, there are the blossoming love angle, the best
friends who fight because of it and make up at the end, lovingly comic digs at
cultural ways and the older generation, homosexuality played for both laughs and
serious points, and so on. Basically, a leap from the top of the cliché tree that aimed
for every branch on the way down.
I’d rather see a good movie that’s unoriginal than an original film that’s
poor. And Bend it Like Beckham succeeds
because of a great spirit and charm inherent in the script, the characters, and
the actresses portraying them.
Bharma (Nagra) is the tomboyish daughter of Indian immigrants in England.
Her mother (Khan) wants only the traditional best for her girl:
namely, for her to learn the family recipes, marry a nice Indian boy, and
following in her footsteps as well as countless years of tradition.
Jess has a secret love and talent: she
can bend the ball like Beckham. While
her family has a portrait of a great Indian spiritual leader in their living
room, Jess lies before a poster of her sports hero, sometimes quietly confiding
in it the dreams she feels she can’t share with her family.
soon knocks in the form of Juliette (Knightley), who sees Jess’ dazzling ball
work playing with some boys one day, and tells her coach (Meyers) about her.
She soon recruits Jess for a girls’ football team.
The two become fast friends and natural wonders on the field.
Yet Jess can’t bring herself to tell her parents the truth, and her
life becomes a quasi-nightmare of close calls and covering up her tracks for as
long as she can. “What did I do
in my past life to deserve this?” her mother moans.
it can’t last forever. When a key
tournament with an American soccer league scout in the audience happens to take
place on the day of her sister’s wedding (and anyone who’s seen Monsoon
Wedding knows just how big a deal an Indian wedding can be), there is no
more putting off the choice: she
must decide between being the daughter her parents want her to be and pursuing
the dream that’s meant so much to her for most of her life.
are the key story points. There are
others, as I briefly touched on before, but most are merely sidetracks.
The real pleasure of the film is in the tried and true message, the
liveliness of the screenplay by co-writer/director Gurinder Chadha, and the two
appealing leads. Keira Knightley
has springboarded from the word of mouth success of this picture to the bona
fide blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean.
It’s well deserved; she’s a delight.
If there’s any justice, though, Parminder Nagra will find equal future
success. She’s the true heart and
soul of this picture, and a remarkable beauty as well.
what if a lot of people in my country don’t know what ‘bend it’ is, or
even who Beckham is apart from being Mr. Posh Spice?
It didn’t stop Bend it Like Beckham from quietly but strongly
becoming the must-see film of 2003. This
movie is a warm, funny, good time…and a real kick in the grass.
is a beautiful anamorphic transfer from Fox (a full frame version is also
available). It’s a colorful film,
and the colors render quite expertly, with warm, natural tones and excellent
containment throughout. I’ve
become convinced that there’s nothing so colorful as an Indian wedding, and by
the time the picture’s climax rolls around, you’ll really appreciate the
work that went into this DVD. Images
are generally sharp and clear and well detailed, with only a hint of softness
here and there in the picture’s few and far between darker shots.
picture goes from being mostly dialogue-oriented to segueing into scenes of fast
action and loud crowds. The 5.1 mix
handles it all well, with the .1 channel giving the terrific song score an extra
boost (an Indian language version of Celine Dion’s/Air Supply’s “The Power
of Love” is very nice). If you
find the accents a bit hard, just click on the subtitles and enjoy.
is a loaded disc! For starters, you
get a commentary with director Gurinder Chadha, which is a charming and
enthusiastic listen. There are 10
deleted or extended scenes, a good making-of featurette, a pair of international
trailers, and an amusing featurette on cooking Aloo Gobi, along with a recipe