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Bending it Like Beckham

bend_beckham_poster.jpgLast night I saw Bend it Like Beckham with my friend Jen.

The movie, nearly two hours long, offers nothing terribly new from a macro view: character struggles to overcome adversity, tradition, and a well-meaning-but-misguided family and succeeds in the end, maturing as an individual. However, zoomed in a little, flecks of originality abound. The sheer fact that it's effectively a sports movie about a woman's team is new. About an Indian family, fairly new (My Big Fat Greek Wedding beat them to the "let's make a comedy out of other people's cultures!" punch most recently). About rampant lesbianism found in women's sports? I'll talk more about that later, but the short answer: no, thank goodness.

I was most impressed with the acting and writing: none of the lines were too cheesy and nobody over-acted, two common flaws in the "lesser known" indie-style films. An IMDB review talks about the movie feeling rushed and without time to fully develop any of the many subplots, but then says this of the main character, played by Parminder Nagra:

Sensational with anything Chadha [writer/director] throws at her, Nagra makes the dramatic burdens of "Beckham" seem like kitten play. Nagra shows off the true conflicted nature of a stymied teen, complete with a delightful slack-jawed bewilderment at all the attention placed on her. You can see Nagra creating a character true to life, and that's a serious achievement. She has a big career ahead of her.

Another actress worth mentioning is Keira Knightley, who plays Jules in the movie. A uniquely attractive young woman, I'd watch the movie again just to see her. 🙂 She looks a bit like Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted, but with a British accent. Sexy! Seems she's taking off a little, too, with Pirates of the Caribbean and Love Actually (never heard of it, but also starring Liam Neeson, Rowan Atkinson, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Denise Richards, Alan Rickman, and Emma Thompson) in post-production.

This movie has taken a little (and I do mean little) flak for being a whirlwind tour through common movie themes, but I'll take difference with that view: it's part of what makes the movie unique. The soccer coach has a bad relationship with his father, but it's dealt with in three scenes. The main character has a massive burn on her leg, but it's dealt with in one scene and mentioned briefly in another.

Women's sports often come under attack for "rampant" lesbianism. The LPGA a few years ago, women's tennis, the WNBA, etc. The writer deals with this in only a few scenes without mistreating any of the characters or harming their credibility. On the issue of racism, which surfaces a few times but never as much as when "Jess" is called a "Paki," the writing assumes that the audience has an IQ of at least sixty and "gets" things like this - a refreshing difference from the typical "beat-you-over-the-head-with-it" methodology applied in most contemporary movies.

One final note: the soundtrack. As we were leaving, Jen commented on how much she liked the soundtrack. Thinking back, I found it enjoyable too. It ranged from traditional Indian-sounding songs to Indian-sounding takes on US pop songs to Blondie and other contemporary hits. Better still, and unlike many movies these days, which simply try to get as many big names on the record as possible, the music fit the movie. Said another IMDB commentor:

The song "Move on up" by Curtis Mayfield works perfectly during a soccer practice montage and the lyrics go perfectly with the plot. "Hush now child and don't you cry. Your folks might understand you by and by. Just move on up! Towards your destination. Though you may find from time to time, Complication".

So, in summary: this movie may not have any big name stars in it (though potentially stars of the future), but it's a new take and an enjoyable romp through a cornucopia of classic themes with dazzling acting and an effective soundtrack.

And this, folks, is why I don't write movie reviews for a living.

8 Responses to "Bending it Like Beckham"

  1. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding beat them to the 'let's make a comedy out of other people's cultures!' punch most recently" depends largely on where you live. Here in Australia, Bend it like Beckham predates My Big Fat Greek Wedding by six months or so: probably moreso in England. Then again, I don't know when Greek Wedding was released in the states... stupid global movie release-date conspiracy.

  2. I've heard that Kiera Knightly is the sexiest tomboy beanpole on the planet. (For those who never visit Ain't It Cool News won't get the joke. 🙂 )

    Anyhoo-- sounds like a great flick. Hopefully I'll catch it this week.

  3. Of course East is East pre-dates both of them by more than three years. Both East is East and Bend it Like Beckham were very funny movies though.

  4. Wal-Mart sucks for music. I went to two Wal-Marts today, one of them a not-so-"Super Wal-Mart," and neither had either of the CDs I was...

  5. Man... I have to agree that Kiera Knightly is sexy... and she looks a LOT like Winnona Ryder and Natalie Portman... Hottness... 😉

  6. Hey! I really enjoyed this movie and hope to see it again, i especially love that song that well is in english and isn't from the indian culture(dunno wut it's called).

  7. I really love this film. I do agree with a lot of people that Keira is very sexy. She is also a brilliant actress. I hope to see her in a lot more films as she is really talented.

  8. you are a retard get a life you retard