Writer/director Gurinder Chadha, who made last year’s delightful What’s Cooking?, has come up with another smasher in Bend It Like Beckham. It’s the story of Jess, whose parents want her to be a nice, conventional Indian girl, while she wants to be a footballer, like her hero David Beckham.
It’s funny, real and intelligent, an East is East about today’s young British Asians and the eternal generation conflict, which will also appeal to non-Asians. The details of Asian life transported to the London suburbs, such as the wonderful incongruity of a complex pre-wedding ritual taking place in the back garden of a suburban semi in Hounslow, all ring true and while the film doesn’t duck the issue of racism, it tackles it with subtlety.
Parminder Nagra as Jess is a real find, as is Keira Knightley as her equally football mad chum Jules, who’s in rebellion against her mum’s desire for her to act more girlie, while Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the football coach over whom they fall out. I also love Juliet Stevenson as Jules’s mum. She gets the Hounslow accent and attitude spot on and I should know. I was brought up just down the road.
This review was first published in April 2002 in the magazine “9 to 5”