There’s romance, comedy, culture clashes and, of course, football galore in Bend it Like Beckham, a terrific film from Gurinder Chadha that made stars of both its leading ladies, Parminder Nagra (who went on to appear in ER) and Keira Knightley, who has gone on to win acclaim for such varied movies as Pirates of the Caribbean and Pride and Prejudice.
Young Londoner Jess (Nagra, whose leg scar and its real-life origins were written into the plot) is a huge fan of footballer David Beckham and dreams that one day she too will score a winning goal for England. However, because her parents are traditional Sikhs, they frown on her love of football, so when she is spotted playing footie in the park by Jules (Knightley) and is asked to try out for the local women’s team, she has to keep her ball-kicking activities to herself. Which won’t be easy when she discovers that an important match clashes with her older sister’s much-anticipated wedding.
With a love interest supplied by Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the girls’ coach and hilarious support from Juliet Stevenson as Jules’s mum, this is packed with good performances and smart dialogue, and is brimming over with fun, even if you don’t understand the offside rule. Score!
Is Bend It Like Beckham suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...