Set in London, England, this great film stars Parminder Nagra (TV’s ER) as Jesminder Bhamra, a young girl looking for a future in soccer instead of becoming a housewife. She meets Juliette, played by Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean), another female soccer player and the two quickly become friends as they try to get in one of England’s first professional female soccer leagues coached by Joe, a former men’s professional soccer coach, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Mission Impossible III).
Anupam Kher (Sliver Lining Playbook and more than 150 Bollywood films) plays Jesminder’s father and Shaheen Khan plays her mother. Archie Panjabi (TV’s The Good Wife, The Constant Gardner, Yasmin) plays Jesminder’s sister Pinky who is temperamental, but genuinely caring as her impending wedding factors into Jesminder’s life plans. Juliet Stevenson (Truly Madly Deeply, Nicolas Nickelby) plays Juliette’s mother Paula and Frank Harper (Lock, Stock and Two Barrels, The Football Factory) plays her dad Alan. Ameet Chana has a memorable role as Jesminder’s friend Tony. Family and friends bond the plot with genuine emotions and storylines that warrant any expansion, prequel, and/or sequel possible because audiences want to know more about these people.
Director/co-writer Gurinder Chadha (Bride & Prejudice) harvests great drama, comedy and exciting soccer sequences produced by important plot points including the most important – Jesminder’s struggle to succeed in professional soccer without disappointing her family. This struggle predictably leads to some deception and other dramatic situations while Coach Joe creates some romantic tension in the plot that tests the girls’ friendship.
The film’s title refers to real life soccer star David Beckam (who Jesminder idolizes in the film) and how he can make the ball curve when he kicks it, especially during penalty kicks at the goal. Parminder Nagra’s real life leg scar was actually written into the film. Recommended (*** out of three stars) and rated PG-13 for language and sexual content. Bend It Like Beckam was the first Western film allowed to be shown in North Korea.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler