In Honor of Women’s History Month

Bend it Like Beckham (2001) Gurinder Chadha

Gurinder Chadha’s instant hit about women footballers (or soccer players, as we call them here in the US) centers around Jessminder “Jess” Bhamra (Parminder Nagra), the eightteen-year-old daughter of a conservative Indian family. But Jess harbors a secret passion for football, and thanks to Juliette Paxton (Keira Knightley), Jess finds herself playing for a local team and winning matches. There are several great things about this film. First, the soundtrack is made of pure awesome sauce. The vibrant tracks—a mixture of contemporary British pop and bhangra music (or Punjabi music)—not only compliment spirit of the film, but perhaps even enhance it. The performances by Nagra, Knightley, and Jonathon Rhys Meyers (of The Tudors fame) who plays their couch are all spot-on and played with due relish. Because while the film does contain elements of drama, it is a comedy at heart. But more and above everything else, this is the story of a friendship between women, and if you think about it long enough, you’ll realize that that’s a rarity. For every Stand by Me, for every Wedding Crashers, for every The Hangover, for every crappy cop-buddy drama, there is Bend it Like Beckham and Waiting to Exhale and…yeah, that’s pretty much it. Although Jess and Juliette do hit a rough patch that probably wouldn’t please most feminists, their relationship is a realistic one that we can relate to on several levels. And it’s this relationship that gives the film its heart.

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