Bend it Like Beckham, directed by Gurinder Chadha: It was fun. It was heartwarming. It was moving. It was well-crafted. And before your eyes glaze over from my use of the word “heartwarming”, and you start imagining something with a moral and a happy ending, well, I could make it worse by saying that Bend it Like Beckham has both, or I could make it better (I hope) by saying that the substantial entertainment value of this film vastly overshadows any moral qualities. There, has that done the trick? Are you still with me?
Well, the story is simple: a girl from a Sikh family in Hounslow (England!) is soccer-mad. She joins a girls soccer team, at the behest of an English girl, thereby triggering some situations with her strict family, others with her newfound friends, and basically everyone involved has a growing experience or two. Oh, yes, and her sister is getting married. Traditionally.
After that rather muzzy little non-description, you should be all confused. Can I attempt to simplify things (and possibly just make things worse) with some summaries? Here goes…
What this film does have:
Astonishing costumes. If you’ve ever wanted to see silks and gildings, it’s a must see.
Fine performances. Really. The whole cast, main and supporting, are delightful.
Characters, as above. Delightful, and fully-realised. Often surprising.
Plenty of laughs.
Dare I say it, a “feel-good” ending. You’ll leave the cinema feeling good about yourself, the world, and possibly even soccer. You may have an urge to kick a ball around, or you may not.
Jolly end credits. The whole audience sat around until the credits had finished, which is virtually unknown in my neck of the woods.
What it doesn’t have:
Saccharine. Not a skerrick. Emotional moments are conducted with a lightness of touch commonly only found in skilled dessert chefs.
Cliche. The tangled path between the obvious cliches is…bugger, lost the verb. I was trying to say that the director navigates as skillfully as, errr, Beckham. Buggered that piece up, then, didn’t I?
In summary: See it. Really. I urge you to. You’ll thank me. At least, if you like fun movies with warm amusing characters.