It’s sad that one would
compare Bend it like Beckham to My Big Fat Greek Wedding,
really. Sure, the summer’s biggest box office hit was a funny good time, but
it doesn’t even compare to the excellent standards of Bend it like Beckham.
They are both charmers, and have generally the same quirky sense of humor. But
this film has much more substance, and a better feel for its material than
My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Already an international success, Bend it
like Beckham, now has its chance to shine in the states, after being
picked up by Fox Searchlight Pictures. But, due to poor distribution and the
limited release factor, many people will never even hear of it. But, one who
has seen the film, cannot deny that everyone who hasn’t should. This is a
first rate comedy, and a top-notch cultural experience. I laughed at least a
dozen times, and smiled thrice that amount. Bend it like Beckham is a
light-hearted, and not to mention well written, feel-good flick.
In Bend it like
Beckham, we travel to Britain, for one of the year’s ultimate treats. Jess
Bhamra (Parminder K. Nagra) is an Indian girl; who always feels like the odd
one out in her culturally obsessive family (this is about the only reason why
people like to call it My Big Fat Indian Wedding). Her sister will soon
be marrying, which would be leaving her stuck at home, alone with her
restrictively boring parents. But the one hobby, saving her from her dreaded
family, is football (or as we American folk would like to call it, soccer).
She plays with other guys in the park quite often, and though she has never
played in any kind of formal league, she’s a wonderful player. She would love
to try out for a team, but two problems confront her. Firstly, she has never
heard of any women’s league, other than those in America. And secondly, her
stringent parents aren’t about to let her play, whatsoever (practicing in the
park isn’t even approved of by them).
As she dribbles the
ball downfield one day, on the field in the local park, amidst her pack of guy
friends, she is approached by Jules Paxton (Keira Knightley), a member of the
only women’s soccer team in town. Jules had been watching her, and noticed her
stunning skills. And, without hesitation, Jules asks Jess to try out for the
local women’s soccer team. In pure excitement, not realizing the giant wall
standing in front of her, taking on the name of her parents, she accepts. For
the first time in a while, Jess is enjoying herself. And at that, she is not
just in a good mood, she is ecstatic. On the day she is set to try out, she
sneaks out of the house, and is able to get out of the house, problem-free.
But, her amateur knowledge of the rules of soccer shows through, when she
first meets the coach of the team, Joe (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). When he asks
her what position she plays, she responds, “I like to play on the top left.”
His first impression of Jess, as a player, isn’t very good. It drastically
changes, however, when he watches her play. She gains a position on the team,
and becomes great friends with Jules. Bend it like Beckham is full of
wise cracks about the Indian culture, soccer players, and girl buddies. It’s a
wonderfully enchanting film.
However, don’t walk
into the theatre expecting your average sports movie. In fact, Bend it like
Beckham is as much about soccer as The Hours is about lesbians. It
centers on the game, and its best sequences feature it, but script is
multidimensional. If there is one thing that this film, by definition, is
about—it’s the Indian culture. There are beautifully written pieces about the
lifestyle, wardrobe, and cuisine of this interestingly nationality in the
script. They are all, of course, written by, an Indian herself—Gurinder Chadha,
who also directed the film. Chadha has a beautiful way of bringing out a
certain lively humor in the quirks of the Indian culture, which is reflected
in her writing, as well as her shots. Comedy is hard to write, and you have to
be daring in the creating of it, in order for the jokes to appear as fresh
needed. Chadha, without a doubt, knows how to do this correctly. Her
screenplay is original, and the actors’ execution of the material is flawless.
Bend it like Beckham
combines creative writing, pleasing humor, and a coming of age story to create
a superb film, comprised of a divine beauty. The cleverness of the flick is
what makes it so unique, because most releases today follow formulaic plots,
and exploit cliché after cliché. If theatres and distributors are anywhere
near sane, we will see this one open up in a wide release, very soon. Bend
it like Beckham is attractively likeable, and the simple beauty of its
content, is what makes it an above-average flick. You’ll definitely see it
near the top of my year-end list, seeing that the next nine months, are going
to be extremely grim ones for film. Naturally funny, and undeniably
satisfying, Bend it like Beckham is definitely one to remember.
Excellence, Brits, and fun all mashed into one move makes a first-rate winner.
Unfortunately, the small release will limit most people from being able to
view its mystifying wonder. See it if you can, without hesitation.
-Danny, Bucket Reviews
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