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Bend It Like Bekham

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Bend It Like Bekham

Starring: Parminder K. Nagra, Keira Knightley
Director: Gurinder Chada
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 112 Minutes
Release Date: March 2003
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Anupam Kher, Archie Panjabi, Shaznay Lewis, Frank Harper, Juliet Stevenson, Shaheen Khan

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

If you enjoyed the genial generational conflict and amusing culture clash of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," consider "Bend It Like Beckham." The title refers to soccer icon David Beckham, captain of the Manchester United team and husband of Posh of the Spice Girls; the popular British phrase, "Nobody bends it like Beckham," refers to his ability to adroitly kick the ball to curve past the defending goalkeeper. Here, it's also a metaphor for bending societal rules.

With that clarification, the London-set story begins as Jesminder Bhamra (Parminder Nagra), an 18 year-old high school senior, aspires to play soccer. Problem is: she's the daughter of strict, traditional Sikh parents who pray to their spiritual guide Babaji that she will marry a nice, conventional Indian lad and learn to cook the perfect chapatti. Nevertheless, she's recruited by cheery Jules (Keira Knightley) to join the local women's team and evade her over-protective parents in order to play. But there are further complications when both young women fall for the team coach (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and Jess realizes that her sister's wedding falls on the same day as an all-important soccer final which will be attended by an American soccer scout.

As in "What's Cooking?" and "Bhaji on the Beach," Indian writer/director Gurinder Chadha cleverly balances drama with humor in her exploration of multi-cultural situations. In depicting Jess's family, for example, Chadha reveals the warm, decent humanity beneath the ethnic stereotypes. And credit cinematographer Jong Lin, along with second-unit director and co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges, for the fast-paced sports sequences. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Bend It Like Beckham" scores a charming, exuberant 8. It's bouncy, feel-good fun.

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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