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Bend It Like Beckham

Starring: Parminder K. Nagra, Keira Knightley, and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
Directed by: Gurinder Chadha
Rated: PG-13



Bend It Like Beckham is one of the greatest feel good movies ever made. Young adults and their whole family can enjoy this magical "little" film that brings back the bygone days of family classics.

Story goes a young Londoner Jessie (Parminder K. Nagra), who also happens to be from a traditional Indian Punjabi family, is mad for soccer. Jessie's also smitten with a particular soccer pro-player named David Beckham (he's Posh Spice's beau).

She wants more than anything to play like her idol but there are several problems with her plans; her being a girl, her old fashioned parents (who desire to marry her off and get her breeding), lack of actual training and there's no pro soccer league in England for women…

But as fate would have it while Jessie is shooting goals and such on the local greens with her homeboys, a beautiful soccer-playing gal invites her to join the local female team. Jessie didn't even know the team existed.

She very excited and jumps in with both cleats firmly in the dirt. Alas, the reality of her life comes back into focus. Her parents are traditional Sikh Indians and her life map is pretty much planned down to the saris for her wedding that is preplanned five years in the future. Her parents say she will go to college, become a doctor (of her choice - they're not that cruel) then of course marriage to a nice Indian fella and a gaggle of babies.

Needless to say when they discover her "hobby" they freak out and fear it will interfer with her entering college in the fall. They forbid her to continue the silly sport...she's getting too old for fantasies. Her dreams are dissipating faster than the popularity of Joe Millionaire.

Jessie just wants to be like Beckham and bend it like Beckham. To "bend it" means to manipulate the ball past a seemingly impenetrable wall of players, very much like what dear Jessie, and many self willed people, go through every single day in life trying to eek out their own destinies even over the will of strong determined parents or poverty or whatever plutonium wall of dread may be in their way. Very Billy Elliot.

The story sounds all too obvious. But believe me this film combines all the best elements of a feel good movie- you may even clap at the end! Jessie stands up to the old world mindset of her culturally driven family (who she loves very much), sneaks out , as any self respecting teenage gal would, and follows her dreams. When she is caught she decides family means more than her own wishes…it is an emotional piece so well done every once in a while you think it may be a documentary. The characters are so real they pop off the screen and you're sure they are in the West London directory.

The young actor Parminder K. Nagra, that plays Jessie, does a phenomenal job with each swell of the story. She keeps your heart firmly in your throat as you start to squirm at the possibilities of how this may end.

There's also a love interest (natch). He's a yummy Sheppard's Pies of a lad Jonathan Ryhs Meyers. He plays "Joe" the team's soccer coach. The team is "older" girls so it's not pervie don't worry. Jonathan grows on you—- it might be the accent…

I know the name and the subject may have you turning a shade of Rated G green, but you'd be wrong to dismiss this delightful culture transcending heart filled piece - it's a rarity and an instant family classic - though even non-breeders like myself will enjoy its "go for it against all odds" message.

Snack Recommendation: Pakoora and Bangers




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