Saturday, June 9, 2007

Bend it Like Beckham...just as good as the real Beckham

Bend it Like Beckham - Gurinder Chadha - 2002 - 8/10


The movie follows the lives of two young women who's whole lives are soccer. Unfortunately, they also have the lives they lead with their families (who don't like soccer). Parminder Nagra plays Jess, the youngest daughter of a traditionalist Sikh family with an older sister who is soon to marry - a big deal for the family. Kiera Knightley is Jules, a tomboy who recruits Jess to play on her amateur soccer team coached by Joe (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). Besides Jules, Jess doesn't have a lot of confidants, with the one exception of Tony (Ameet Chana) who everyone assumes is head over heels for Jess. Things start to get tricky when Jess endangers her mother and sister's happiness and her dreams of playing soccer in America are jeopardized. With things beginning to crumble, Jess can't even turn to Jules who won't speak to her after she feels Jess betrayed her.


First, I have to say that Parminder Nagra looks pretty good for thirty. I'm not saying that thirty is old, it's just that it's still ten years older than Kiera Knightley. On a more substantive level, I thought this was a pretty good movie that had a good mix of family drama, sports excitement, and romance. It's almost like a movie that set out to be the perfect halfway point between a sports movie engineered for boys and a chick flick for girls that gets to that point with a little culture too. For all that, I have to applaud the director, Chadha, for maintaining that balance. However, the formula isn't flawless. Because of all the stories, from Jess', Jules', the sister, Tony's, the father's, the culture stuff, to Meyers', some of the stories do get the short end of the stick. Unfortunately for Rhys-Meyers, it was his story. I thought that his character was pretty good, with a sort of new British twist on Estevez's character from The Mighty Ducks. However, Estevez had the old guy to talk to as well as the mom because he was the star of a kids movie that could get by with only developing his character. Rhys-Meyers isn't so lucky, and much of potentially deep character isn't really developed. That's the big stuff, but some of the little things that put me off were how some of the sports scenes were shot in this lame slow-mow type format, which I thought took away from the excitement, especially for a sport like soccer that is all about speed. Chadha didn't do this for the training scenes/montages though, and those were still pretty cool.


A great movie to watch with your girlfriend.

If you've seen the movie...

My biggest question throughout the movie was, how did they fall in love? Like, for the most part, there weren't that many scenes of them together. They talked a little bit at the beginning and the end and they did have some chemistry, but it was a little much to expect that this guy would fall in love with this girl. Then the ending seemed a little too easy - sure the dad's speech was pretty good, and predictable, but why did the mother suddenly just buckle? Furthermore, how did Kiera just forgive Jess and move beyond her obsessive, all consuming love for Joe? It seemed like she was able to move past the pillar of her life (besides soccer) pretty quickly. And if her mom was so freaked out that Kiera was a lesbian, why didn't she say something the first time, when she thought Jess was her lover? And I guess this question is kind of because of the childish "epilogue" type ending, but how did the family just change? Sure, letting Jess play soccer in America was a big step, but welcoming Joe into their family with open arms is a little suspect. Oh well, still a solid movie.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Monsoon Wedding
...She's the Man
...A League of their Own

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