Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Directed by: Gurinder Chadha.
Produced by: Chadha & Deepak Nayar.
Written by: Chadra, Guljit Bindra & Paul Mayeda Bergers.
Director of Photography: Jong Lin.
Edited by: Justin Krish.
Music by: Craig Pruess.
Released by: Fox Searchlight.
Country of Origin: UK/Germany. 112 min. Rated: PG-13.
With: Parminder K. Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, & Juliet Stevenson.
DVD Special Features: Director and Co-Writer Bergers Commentary. Deleted/Extended Scenes. "Who Wants to Cook Aloo Gobi?" Featurette. "The Making of Bend It Like Beckham" Featurette. Music Video. Aloo Gobi Recipe. Trailers. Spanish & French Audio. Spanish Subtitles.

As subtle as a kick in the head, this vibrant romp is the best of the recent British underdog comedies (The Full Monty, Brass off, etc.) Teenager Jess (Nagra) is torn between her Sikh parents' wishes that she attend college and marry a nice Indian boy and her own desire to play soccer. Encouraged by a lanky English girl, Juliette (Knightley), Jess tells her parents that she has an afterschool job, when in fact, she's joined an all-girl amateur soccer team. To make matters worse, especially to her mother ("What have I done in my past life to deserve this?"), Jess has a growing attraction to her Irish coach Joe (Rhys-Meyers), a potential scandal that would surely ruin her family's reputation within the tight-knit Indian community. Accompanied by a pop music soundtrack, several montages of Jess and her team in action help move the film at an exuberant pace. The cast saves the film from turning into a collection of sitcom one liners by playing the characters, though broadly, with more than one dimension. The film, named after soccer superstar David Beckham's curve ball kick, rarely fouls, such as when Juliette's angry mother (played by Stevenson like a British Southern belle) confronts Jess at a wedding without provocation. But despite the far from perfect script, the humor and goodwill is infectious, and with its stronger story, it will certainly appeal to fans of another ethnic family comedy, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
April 24, 2003

Extras: The deleted scenes and the music video (of the song “Hot, Hot, Hot”) carry on the buoyant spirit of this well-acted comedy. In the “Who Wants to Cook Aloo Gobi?” segment, director Chadha’s hard-to-please mother stands in judgment, like Jess’s mother, as Chadha methodically prepares the dish. Even the commentary is breezy and entertaining. KT
October 18, 2003



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