Bend It Like Beckham

Jesminder, aka Jess, a good Indian-English girl and Sikh, defies her traditional parents and secretly joins a girls’ football team. There she meets her new BFF Jules and together they chase their common dream of moving to America to lay professional soccer.

Jules’ (Keira Knightley) mother is not too pleased to have a tomboy for a daughter, and she’s horrified to think Jules may be one of those lesbians (“All I’m saying is, there’s a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one without a fella!”) but it’s Jess who suffers the most from her parents’ expectations. She gets cultural, religious, and filial guilt and shame heaped upon her – her soccer skills even threaten her sister’s marriage, somehow.


In 2002, this was a fun movie about female friendship and gender stereotypes. ‘A 2018 re-watch is not particularly kind to it. It feels dated. Very dated. Which is great, obviously. Even as we burn in our collective dumpster fire, at least we can look back to the cultural touchstone that is Bend It Like Beckham with just a touch of smugness that we no longer say things like “Mother, just because I wear trakkies and play sport does not make me a lesbian!” and (white man to Indian woman who was just called a Paki) “Jess, I’m Irish. Of course I understand what that feels like.” If you wondered what those sounds were the other night, that was me, winning the world cup in groaning.

I still don’t know what it means to “bend it” like Beckham but I’ve been imagining that he has a crooked penis. This was the movie that introduced American audiences to Keira Knightley, and I didn’t find her completely awful yet. Parminda Nagra was the real stand-out, as was the man who played her father, Anupam Kher, an illustrious and dashing Indian film star. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is even creepier than I remembered. Like, unmanageably, unforgivably, career-killingly (you’d think) creepy. I don’t want him in the same movie as anyone’s juicy, juicy mangoes. He’s nearly as terrible as the 00’s club wear these ladies are sporting. It’s like a fashion show of my biggest regrets.




7 thoughts on “Bend It Like Beckham

  1. ninvoid99

    This is one of my mother’s favorite films ever as she just loves Indian culture and my dad loves it because of futbol. I just love it overall. Plus, Keira’s mum in the film dealing with the idea of her daughter being a lesbian and then thinking about poor George Michael as her husband says, “George Michael is still a superstar and you still listen to Wham!”


  2. orcaflotta

    “Bend it” relates to Beckham’s certain way to pass the ball to his team mates. They didn’t fly just straight but in a curved fashion, like a bow. Confuses the other team and is just a lovely little quirk that made him such a stand-out sportsballer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Natasha

    Loved this film as a preteen but yes, dated now. Always amusing when white men think they understand other culture’s problems and stereotype.

    I’ve heard that it is something to do with the shape of his legs that make the ball curve and trick the other team. To be honest, the crooked penis adds more character to his life story though!


  4. Willow Croft

    I just remember watching him in The Tudors, and, when he was writhing in obese-king-agony, it seemed like he was grabbing the wrong injured leg. He was okay as the young King Henry, but…well, ’nuff said.


  5. Lorna Cunningham-Rushton

    Somehow (and it has a connection to my using my devilish phone, not my laptop) I lost a post I wrote about having a crush on Jonathan Rhys Meyers as he was in this movie. I was 60 at the time, so I obviously have issues.


  6. Liz A.

    I loved this movie. But I haven’t seen it in years, so yeah, I might find myself rolling my eyes on a rewatch. I love that the older sister ended up doing some great things on TV, like on The Good Wife.



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