Bend It Like Beckham

Bend It Like Beckham ★★★

Almost ashamed to admit that I've never watched Bend it Like Beckham before. Since I've moved over to the world of football as a major hobby I guess I'm playing catch up on such art. Bend it Like Beckham is about girls football, which 20 years on is an actual professionally organised sport in the UK. In 2002? Less so. The fortune and glory came from the United States.

Jess Bhamra (Parminder Nagra) is a Hindu teenager who loves a kick around down the park and adores David Beckham. A chance encounter with Hounslow Harriers striker Jules (Keira Knightley) changes her outlook on life. Instead of being content with her lot she becomes ambitious and chases her dreams, against her parents wishes.

Bend it Like Beckham is a nicely balanced coming-of-age tale mixed in with Indian families and teenage friendships. The girls being so close leads Jules' mom (Juliet Stevenson) to believe they're gay. Archie Panjabi (sporting the name Pinky) is fun as Jess' older sister who's getting married. Also Frank Harper from the Football Factory is Jules' dad and Shaznay Lewis from All Saints plays central midfield. It's quite the cast.

The feelgood story of two girls chasing their dreams through an unconventional route is an easy watch although in the acting stakes it's a bit melodramatic. Especially Keira's Jules. It's amazing she got famous because of this. The emotional heft comes from Anupam Kher as Jess' dad and Parminder Nagra herself.