Bend It Like Beckham

March 12, 2003

Director –
Gurinder ChadhaMajor Actors –
Parminder K. Nagra …. Jesminder Bhamra
Keira Knightley …. Juliette Paxton
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers …. Joe
Anupam Kher …. Mr. Bhamra
Archie Panjabi …. Pinky Bhamra
Shaznay Lewis …. Mel
Frank Harper …. Alan Paxton
Juliet Stevenson …. Paula Paxton
Shaheen Khan …. Mrs. Bhamra
IMDB Information

Analysis –
Acting :
In a word, superb. Many of these actors were familiar to me from other works (notably Keira Knightley, cute Padme clone that she is), and I was extremely impressed by their performances in this film. Parminder Nagra, who I have not seen before, was a joy to watch. Her character, Jessi, was fully fleshed out and running on her own before half an hour of the film was up simply because she was able to convey so much through simple body language and facial expressions. You know…acting? It was a joy to watch a film where all of the players brought something special to their roles, and I wasn’t left with the feeling that one of the characters was simply written in so that they could fill a hole in the plot. Juliet Stevenson’s Paula, the mother of Jessi’s friend Juliette was so obnoxiously over the top that, as my girlfriend put it “You could smell the perfume coming through the screen at you.” At the same time, because she’s an *actress*, you managed to feel sorry for the woman because she was so obviously over her head. I’d also like to specifically mention Frank Harper, who took a cardboard cut-out of a character, Juliette’s Dad, and made him one of the most likable characters in the film with probably only a dozen or so lines to his name. As they say, Brilliant.

Writing :
Phantastic! Writing comedy, especially comedy that deals with serious issues, is so amazingly hard that when it’s done well it always impresses the heck out of me. Chadha and the other writers manage to discuss cultural stereotypes and biases, gender roles, sexual roles, and simple relationships while keeping the story moving at a brisk, clear pace and while keeping us laughing all the while.

As I’ve said before, the best directing is the kind you don’t see. Ms. Chadha’s light hand at the till kept the story focused, the editing tight and natural, and the actors at the top of their game. This woman is someone to watch for in the future, no doubt about that.

Sets, Costumes, Special FX and Music:
The best part about Comedies and Dramas is that we get a break from explosions and computer-generated gungans. The set-pieces were simple and served to further the plot by giving the actors a rich tapestry to be placed against, while the music and costuming played their parts quietly in the background, acting as the supporting characters they should be. The costumes, I’d like to mention, were very good and considering the culture involved, just as beautiful as you’d expect.

Movie Overall :
Okay, so while the movie deals with some deep topics, it’s not the most brainy of films. Some of the plot twists you saw telegraphed from the first moments of the film, and the on-again off-again love-hate relationships were a bit dramatic. Don’t push those aside, revel in them, because those pieces of the film are just more evidence of the quality of this flick. Chadha’s creation here is at it’s core just another Dramedy about wacky family goings on, but the point is that it’s a very very good Dramedy about wacky family goings on. If people are willing to watch schlock like Big Mama’s house and call it good cinema, than it is perfectly well and good for those of us with a little more intelligence and sensitivity to revel in a perfectly executed sensitive and intelligent version of the same.

Personal Rating
This movie is worth seeing for full price.

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