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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12
Cast
Parminder Nagra
Keira Knightley
Archie Panjabi
Shaznay Lewis
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
Anupam Kher.
Directors
Gurinder Chadha.
Screenwriters
Gurinder Chadha
Paul Mayeda Berges
Guljit Bindra.
Running Time
112 minutes

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Bend It Like Beckham
Football-themed comedy set in Britain's Indian community.


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Plot
Jess is desperate to be a footballer, but her parents have other ideas. When friend Jules convinces her to join a local team, she has to keep it a secret - especially when the final falls on the day of her sister's wedding.


Review
Anything East Is East can do, Bend It Like Beckham can do better. Like that runaway hit, Gurinder Chadha's football-themed comedy is set in Britain's Indian community, but has wide appeal. It, too, is about the tight (some say protective) restrictions imposed by family and tradition, and how the younger generation address this while trying to fit into the modern, multi-cultural world.

Regardless of ethnic background, all teenagers have run-ins with their parents. And, like Jess in the film, if they can't talk to their elders, they'll discuss their dreams with the posters on their bedroom walls. Perhaps Chadha shows more confidence handling the domestic comedy-drama and Bollywood-lite music, dance and colour of the wedding scene than the football footage, but she marshals together the many elements of her film and sustains an infectiously buoyant mood.

As Bhaji On The Beach and What's Cooking? revealed, she has an amazing touch with people. She's on the side of the kids and their parents, never turning the older generation into out-of-touch, stereotypical tyrants. Nagra is tremendously appealing in the lead role, while Knightley and Rhys Meyers add to the sex appeal. As Jules' mum, Juliet Stevenson seems to have wandered straight in from the set of a Mike Leigh movie, confidently telling her tomboy daughter (whom she fears is a lesbian), "There's a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one without a fella."

A feel-good movie with issues relevant to everyone in the audience, Bend It Like Beckham is a real word-of-mouth crowd pleaser. The in-jokes will be lapped up by Asian viewers but, given that Goodness Gracious Me is one of the funniest British comedies on TV, they won't fly over the heads of everyone else. It might yet qualify for the champions' league.


Verdict
Like an extra time free kick sent over the defensive wall into the back of the net, this is a winner that has come out of nowhere. Delightfully upbeat, it will send you back out onto the street grinning from ear to ear.


Reviewed by Alan Morrison


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Bend It Like Beckham
Empire Star Rating

Am I mad?

I'm more than a little lost as to the popularity of this film. OK, deep breath. The characters are at best barely 2 dimensional, it lacks any cinematic pow! factor, I didn't find it in the slightest bit funny, the UK music was awful (Texas and more than one Sporty Spice song), naff plot devices, the central love story didn't convince and it was just a line of of cliches including a lame insertion of the must have 'gay friend'. Gets an extra star for having a heroine with scars and gen... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by enemysprout at 12:57, 25 January 2008 | Report This Post


Am I mad?

I'm more than a little lost as to the popularity of this film. OK, deep breath. The characters are at best barely 2 dimensional, it lacks any cinematic pow! factor, I didn't find it in the slightest bit funny, the UK music was awful (Texas and more than one Sporty Spice song), naff plot devices, the central love story didn't convince and it was just a line of of cliches including a lame insertion of the must have 'gay friend'. Gets an extra star for having a heroine with scars and gen... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by enemysprout at 12:57, 25 January 2008 | Report This Post


great film ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by vivlitherland at 12:19, 07 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Bend It Like Beckham

This film is great. I love it. My fave footie film. ... More

Posted by m_er at 04:13, 31 August 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Bend It Like Beckham

Parminder Nagra  SHOULD BE A MEGA STAR !   The film is boring, bland, not funny, and responsible for unleashing the  plank pout into the world! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by impqueen at 22:08, 29 August 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Bend It Like Beckham

an enjoyable, british footy comedy. s'all good. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shawshank prisoner at 18:18, 29 August 2006 | Report This Post


RE: bend it like a bummer

L: Tech_Noir I love Parminder Nagra  ote]   Back off, she's mine! And also the only reason I watched this. But I was pleasantly surprised. Gurinder Chadha does a great job ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ctu_special_agent at 11:46, 29 August 2006 | Report This Post


RE: bend it like a bummer

I love Parminder Nagra  ... More

Posted by Tech_Noir at 17:54, 23 July 2006 | Report This Post


bend it like a bummer

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE will somebody slap Keira Knightley. She is the worst thing to come out of Britain since BSE. She is simply awful in every film she is in. What a contrast in performance between pouting keira and the wonderfully talented Parminder Nagra. .....Oh, the film is unbelieveable but occasionally enjoyable ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BarryNorman at 00:55, 22 July 2006 | Report This Post


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