Bend It Like Beckham is a movie that really lifted my spirits. It follows the pattern of many ethnic coming-of-age stories, yet it does so in such a way as to make an old story seem fresh. The film is about a teenage girl whose Sikh family lives in the London area near Heathrow Airport.
The heroine is Jesminder Jess Bhamra (Parminder K. Nagra), whos passionate about playing soccer. For inspiration, she has a large picture of soccer great David Beckham looming over her bed. But she is still a teenager living with her conservative parents, who are loving but controlling. She starts playing for a womens team, but she has to do it behind her parents backs.
Jesss family is caught up in elaborate plans for the wedding of her older sister, and Jess must do everything expected of a dutiful daughter. During most of the film, Jesss own problems remain all but invisible to her family. But everything comes to a head when Jesss big game and her sisters wedding are scheduled for the same day.
Through soccer, Jess befriends an English girl named Jules Paxton (Keira Knightley).
Of course, if some of this seems to you much like many a feel-good coming-of-age story, you are not alone. But I forgave the movie for occasionally falling into cliché, because its heart seemed to be in the right place, giving it an earnestness that drew me in immediately.
To my mind, Bend It Like Beckham has a stylish exuberance and sincerity that makes it seem almost fresh. Almost is the operative word here, because one flaw of this movie is that it is impossible to sit through without sensing the ghosts of other films. While watching Bend It Like Beckham on DVD, two films that preceded it came to mind: Monsoon Wedding and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, although Beckham is funnier that Monsoon Wedding and has less of a TV-sitcom-writ-large-on-the-big-screen feel than Greek Wedding.
There were things I loved about this film. It looks terrific on DVD, and its visual style has bright super-saturated colors evoking old Hollywood Technicolor feel-good fantasies of the past.
The DVD comes with some nice special features, and Ive listed them below.
Selected Special Features on the DVD:
- Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
- English 5.1 Dolby Surround
- French 5.1 Dolby Surround
- Spanish Dolby Surround
- English Subtitles
- Spanish Subtitles
- Audio Commentary by Director and Co-Writer
- Who Wants to Cook Aloo Gobi Featurette
- Behind the Scenes Featurette: The Making of Bend It Like Beckham
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (10)
- Music Video
- International Trailers (2)
- Aloo Gobi Recipe
- Bend It Like Beckham Music Promo Spot