Bend it Like Beckham
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By jank - Last updated: Wednesday, August 6, 2003 - Save & Share - 5 Comments

Drop what you’re doing. Right now. Pick up your purse and/or wallet, put on comfortable shoes, and go see this flick. For real.

I’ll go into it a little bit in the extended entry, but I can’t really review without a spoilers (At the bottom . My honest opinion is that this is the best sports movie since Bull Durham, finally knocking Tin Cup out of second. (One point I will not argue – Caddyshack the funniest golf movie ever made, is not a sports movie. Absolutely hilarious, easily a top 20 flick of all time, but not a sports movie)

Even not liking soccer, it’s worth seeing for –
1. The score – The integration of Indian music with western music works especially well
2. The cinematography mixing Jess’ life in the Hindu Indian community with shots of her on the field.
3. Great acting all around. The three leads -Jess, Jules (Same woman as in Pirates of the Caribbean, and Jon- turn in stellar performances.
4. Think Brandi Chastain

Last thing in this part – Review from the Hindu Times of India. They like the movie.

I’m a sucker for sports movies that hang their heart out on their sleeves. _Bull Durham_ and _Tin Cup_ both make my hall of fame since it seems that everyone from the screenwriter to the actors actually understood that a) sports are fun, and b) sports are at their heart trivial. Bill Simmons touched on this not soon after the war started. I’d extend his critique of sportswriters taking themselves too seriously to folks who make overly serious sports movies like _For the Love of the Game_, _Any Given Sunday_, etc.

Actually, my gripe with those is that they put the sport above the characters, and sports with all their rules and crap can’t evolve and grow like characters do. My favorite sports movies (Favorite movies in general) are all tied together by having characters you can care about who grow over the course of the film (Even Bluto Blutarski).

I truly loved this movie. Honestly, if you don’t go see it, I think you’re missing out on the best import from British cinema since Waking Ned Devine. The review on IMDB panned it pretty fiercely, saying it was ‘too ADD’ to follow, which completely missed the point, IMO. It’s a story about a high school teen, struggling with pleasing her parents, figuring out what the heck she wants to do with her life, coming to terms with race, sex, tradition – Life as a teen is extremely disjointed.

I actually saw this as a positive aspect in the movie. It manages to capture the stress of coming of age without resorting to a drastic plot device. It’s about soccer, for crying out loud. No hand wringing about sexuality, no substance abuse problems, no abusive parents, no peers as bad influences – Jess is just a normal kid in a normal life with abnormal talent. Normality doesn’t have the cachet that abnormality does; consequently, it doesn’t get celebrated nearly enough.

The other aspect that I loved is that both Jess’ and Jules’ parents aren’t shown as complete idiots as in most teen movies. The parents are completely out of touch with their kids’ world, but the love between the parents and the kids seems real. Actual functional families. Go figure…

*(semi spoiler)*

The movie is noteable for bringing elements of Bollywood movies to the west (At least from what I’ve read and the tiny bit I’ve seen – I’ll be the first to admit that the amount of Indian Film that I’ve watched is meager). The soundtrack works extremely well, and the climactic scene, cutting between the reception of Jess’ sister’s wedding and the final of a major soccer match, is one of the coolest pieces of film I’ve seen, with the dancers’ movements echoing the players’ through a series of cuts.

*(super spoiler)*

My biggest gripe with the story is in the resolution of the relationship between Jess and Jon. Jess hits the winning pentalty kick by bending it like Beckam, gets offered the full scholarship to go play soccer at Santa Clara in the US, and gets her dad to face down his own demons and allow her to go to school. Wow. We’re riding a high.

Then she goes down to her practice field to tell Jon, who she hasn’t been able to date due to fraternization rules, etc. He immediately tries to kiss her, and she stops him out of realization that a relationship across an ocean and a continent is going to be nearly impossible. Plus, she doesn’t want to press her folks too much. Wow. Jess is at this moment not only mindblowingly hot, but she’s also practical. It’s exactly the right amount of pretty much meaningless loss (Jon’s a bit of a womanizer apparently, and he’s going to keep coaching the women; Jess is going to college in California, not like there’s boys there – I’d bet a fiver that they don’t last) to cut the treachle.

But no, they couldn’t leave well enough alone. As Jess and Jules are getting on the airplane to go to the US, Jon shows up and Jess runs into his arms. Blech. Not bad enough to ruin the movie for me, but enough to keep _Bull Durham_ in the number one spot.

Oh, and luckily enough, Beckham and Posh walk past just as Jess and Jon start making out in the concourse, so Jess’ parents are never the wiser. After 2 hours of showing her folks in a pretty respectful light, suddenly they’re doofuses.

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5 Responses to “Bend it Like Beckham”

Comment from cynsmith
Time August 6, 2003 at 2:37 pm

I second the recommendation. I saw the movie a few months ago and immediately went out and bought the soundtrack. Much better than Blue Crush, my favorite girl-power movie last summer.

Comment from jank
Time August 6, 2003 at 4:20 pm

Ah, Blue Crush – Another of my favorite all-time sports movies.

One of the highlights on my recent tour on the USS Lincoln was frequent showings of Blue Crush on the Ship’s Movie Channel. Whiled away the hours.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 6, 2003 at 9:55 pm

I had a co-worker who was gonna hook me up with the cool Indian music, but she left Dell to go into the family business in Dallas. She made it pretty clear that I have no clue when it comes Eastern music since I don’t even know the difference between “real” Indian and “just” Punjabi, but I offer you this CD recommendation that I have enjoyed the hell out of: Punjabi MC’s The Album. You might want to get a U.S. release, Beware, instead. Actually, I don’t know that the U.S. album is like the one I have. I ordered The Album from Germany after I heard the song he did with Jay-Z (which is on both albums) and did not want to wait for the U.S. album to be released. It’s a mix of traditional Punjabi music, rap, electronic and DJ mixin’ — in one song he mixes in the bass line from “The Theme to Knight Rider”.

Here’s a co up le sound bites for you.

Comment from BT
Time August 7, 2003 at 10:00 pm

Just to clear the record, the best sports movie of all time was, without a doubt, Rocky. Everything else is just a pretender to the throne.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 10, 2003 at 8:36 pm

I don’t know if it counts, but Jerry Maguire is one of my favorite sports-related films. I like to watch from the injury to the end of the movie. (I’ve probably done that a dozen times.)

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