Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Us Watching Them

The only interesting thing about this is the appearance of two energetic actresses. One pleasantly mooneyes at the camera and the other has a strong enough presence to have hope (despite “Pirates” and “Phantom”) that she might not disappoint like so many others.

I knew I was in for a stew of cliches because of Chadha’s dreary “What’s Cooking” which was a stampede of banality. Here we have female vs. male, gay vs. straight (twice!), modern vs. traditional, Irish vs. English, Sikh vs. British, honor vs. truth, friendship vs. love, family vs. self, all of them from the film-by-numbers playbook.

The only thing (other than Keira) that is remotely interesting is some of the early footage of the soccer games shot at ankle height — clearly done by a second crew while the mundane Chadha was elsewhere. And the signature piece: the intercutting of the wedding and the final (show up or your life is ruined) soccer match. Copolla writ small.

If you want a simple film with roughly the same theme that at least has energy and imagination, see “Whale Rider” instead. Heck, “Blue Crush” is no less stupid and a whole lot more appealing.

Films like this are all about peering and judging. North American audiences like to peer and judge others with a special fondness for the British who willingly present a ridiculous profile, from “Saving Grace” to, well pick almost anything. Here we watch them watching Indians who watch their daughters. Their concern — seemingly at every level — is that others will see both them and what they are watching.

The only value we get for our money is to see them all at will.

Posted in 2003

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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