Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Minor lesbian content
Short Take: Two young soccer players must deal with parental expectations.
Alternate Titles:
Year: 2002
Duration: 115 min
Language: UK, Germany, USA/English
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Writer: Gurinder Chadha, Guljit Bindra
Starring: Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anupam Kher, Archie Panjabi, Shaznay Lewis, Frank Harper, Juliet Stevenson, Shaheen Khan, Ameet Chana, Pooja Shah, Paven Virk, Preeya Kalidas, Trey Farley, Saraj Chaudhry

Bend It Like Beckham Trailer

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Bend It Like Beckham

At its best, award-winning Bend It Like Beckham is a film about non-conformity and rebellion against cultural and parental expectations of gender roles. Jess (Parminder Nagra) joins a London soccer team, but must keep it a secret from her Sikh immigrant parents, who feel a young woman should more appropriately learn to cook a complete dinner and find a nice Indian boy to marry.

Hers is a constant struggle to simply do what she loves. New friend Jules (Keira Knightley) has similar, although less intense, issues with her mother Paula (Juliet Stevenson, Being Julia, Mona Lisa Smile), who wants her daughter to be more feminine. When Paula overhears a conversation between the two girls, she assumes they are in a lesbian relationship.

On the same day that Jess and Jules both play a brilliant game scouted by a US college coach, Jess is in the midst of participating in her sister’s wedding. Paula arrives to confront her, calling her a lesbian, and causing confusion all around. Good for an audience chuckle, one of the older family members responds with, ‘Jess isn’t Lebanese.’ Jules lets her mother know that they aren’t a couple, but also tells her that being a lesbian ‘isn’t that big a deal.’

Writer/director Gurinder Chadha (What’s Cooking?) has revealed that in the original script, Jules and Jess were really in love. Not only was this removed, but to make sure we know that they are heterosexual, the two get in conflict with one another over a mutual attraction for their coach (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). Still, there is a strong message of acceptance of gays and lesbians, and Jess’ good friend Tony (Ameet Chana) also turns out to be gay. (AB)