Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

bilbGurinder Chadha tells the tale of Jess (played by the beautiful Parminder Nagra), the youngest in a traditional Hindu family who still follows the ritual of arranged marriages, and ceremonial garbs, but loves to play futbol. She plays it with an all boys team against her parents wishes. She is recruited one day by Jules, a professional futbol player who asks Jess to play for her professional team in which they’ll be coached by the potential love interest for the two and maybe Jess and Jules will be recruited into the American futbol team, but not if her mother and father have anything to say about it.

I was quite interested in what would turn up because there’s hardly ever films that rely on acting anymore. A surefire girl power film that parents should watch with their young daughters, this is indeed a charmer. Never serious even when it should be, everything in the film is presented with such a light hearted fashion that it will prove to be some family entertainment worth sitting down to. Now while some of the situations border on edgy like the running gag during the film in which both families of Jules and Jess think they’re lesbian, but it’s mostly just intended as a gag. Considering the movie was originally written where Knightley and Nagra’s character fall in love with each other, there’s not much for Knightley’s character Jules to do in the film.

During the story it’s hinted that the two take a liking to one another which is never resolved, however the writing makes good use of that as comedic value when both families think the two are lesbian lovers. This import also manages to bring some entirely entertaining scenes to audiences everywhere with characters we can care about including the beautiful Parminda Nagra, who is very charming as the strong willed Jess who is desperate to break away from the traditions of arranged marriages and gowns. Jess is a strong character to root for throughout the film as we watch her hold her own in an all boys team and then find out its harder in a professional all girls team. She’s often times very fun to watch and we want good things to happen to her as we do Jules played by the beautiful Keira Knightley who is the more free spirited of the two and a lot more charismatic.

The film is just a light hearted romp more intended to or suited to the young generation of preteen girls, but this is also an entertaining movie all around. There’s just a lot of fluff here, and it seems to bog down the story along with too many subplots and themes. We see a lot of sub-plots during the film that are set-up but never finished. We can see an obvious romantic spark between Jess and her Hindu teammate in her boys team but it’s hinted and never finished, so we’re left with a feeling of incompletion that it’s never really justified to the audience and ultimately it feels like filler or just tacked on to the story. Then there’s the subplot between Knightley’s character and Meyers’ character which is not only never finished but is just all over the place. Were they ever together? Are they ex’? Does she have a crush on him? Does he know she likes him? And so much more questions that are never answered, so again, it’s just so awkward and tacked on that we feel like we’re wasting our time.

There are so many sub-plots during the film we’re never sure if this is meant to be an episodic film or a film revolving around one person with sub-plots. There’s the main subplot, then the romance subplot between Nagra and Meyers, then Knightley, the character Jess’ parents, Knightley’s parents and on and on to the point where we lose focus of the actual story which is to see if the character Jess is able to compete in the competition and make it on the US team. Knightley who is very good in the role is a great supporting actress but we never get the feel for her character or her personality despite the fact she plays an important role in the film and the progression of the plot. Situations and themes in the film are approached with such trivial attitudes that it makes it hard for us to care for the characters of the tribulations they experience.

Such as romantic conflicts, Jess being discovered in the girls team despite her parents refusal, and Jess’ unwillingness to follow tradition and break out as her own person. There’s such a thing as featuring drama in a comedy without it becoming depressing or heavy in mood. ultimately while the film is ripe with entertainment, it’s just so scattered we’re never fully satisfied with the climax, because there’s very little resolution. The work out scenes are fun, and the comedy is funny especially when delivered by the quirky characters including the domineering parents of Jess, and Jules’ eccentric mother who becomes nervous about her daughter’s suspected sexuality. Despite the heavy flaws in narrative, “Bend it like Beckham” is satisfying and all the while entertaining to watch from start to finish, it’s a coming of age tale about characters driven by a goal, and you can’t help but smiling.