Gurinder Chadha directs Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in this British football comedy were two girls rebel against their families prejudices and play for the local team.
Post-The Full Monty British cinema was pretty much dominated by garish sitcoms where unlikely underdogs took up popular hobbies to a ridiculously upbeat soundtrack. Social issues are flirted with only in a tone deaf way, the DVD cover was unwaveringly either custard or lime green coloured. Bright, surface-level empowerment fables still with a semblance of Kitchen Sink Realism in their much mutated DNA. Bend It Like Beckham is actually one of the better ones despite the fact it looks and sounds like a kid’s teatime show rather than a multiplex release. It has issues that have aged as badly as I suspected they might 18 years ago. The plot gets stuck on repeat… how many times is Jess gonna get caught by her family and told not to play football? Eight times?… Nine times?! And despite that deceitfully cheerful pop music brainwash telling you what a jubilant time this all is… the lightweight film definitely outstays its welcome. A warm and attractive central performance by Nagra covers up a lot of fluff and contrivance.
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