Monday, October 13, 2003

Bend It Like Beckham a kick in the grass

Originally published in The Vanguard, the student newspaper of The University of South Alabama

With its DVD release last week, "Bend it Like Beckham" continues to pull in profits.

Now, I don't normally like sports films, but this is more about cultural differences and relationships than about the sport. The film is set in England and follows the lives of two 18-year-old girls who love to play soccer.

One of the girls is Indian, and her family believes girls do not run around in shorts playing sports. Girls are supposed to learn to cook and get married. Jesminder Bhamra is played by Parminder K. Nagra (who recently started a stint on the popular television show E.R. as a medical student).
Jesminder (Jess) is playing soccer with her friends in the park one day when another girl sees her. She stops and watches for a few minutes. She later introduces herself to Jess as Juliette Paxton (played by Keira Knightley, the female lead in the summer's biggest hit, "Pirates of the Caribbean") and tells Jess she plays for a girl's team. She asks her to come for a tryout.

At the tryout, her talent shines through and wins the approval of attractive coach Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), and she is offered a spot on the team.

What follows is a clash between family duties and commitment to the team, and Jess's dream to play professional soccer in America.

Of course, Juliette has her own family problems. Her mother is a busybody who wants her to be more of a girl. She urges her to give up soccer and get a boyfriend. Her efforts are punctuated with comments like, "There's a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one without a man."

During the course of the season, Jess has to sneak out of her house to go to practice, her sister finds out she is not really working part time and she falls for Joe. The problem is, (you guessed it) Juliette is already in love with him.

The feelings come out after a match in Germany, leaving one girl heartbroken and seemingly ending their friendship. It would not be right to reveal more!

Suffice it to say, "Bend it Like Beckham" is an interesting look at a culture totally unfamiliar to most of us.

The relationships are accurately portrayed between parents and daughters and between friends.

The soccer matches are fast and furious, and the players are skilled at the game. It is almost as exciting to watch as an actual match.

"Bend it Like Beckham" is an excellent escape movie, to be watched with friends. The Casual Critic thoroughly enjoyed this movie and even bought the DVD!

Final Grade: B+

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