Bend it like Beckham is a British film under the rule of director Gurinder Chadha.
As much as the name of the prominent footballer exists in the film title, he only plays a minor role in the film, as the idol for Jess, one of the movie's two lead characters.
Bend it like Beckham is about girls playing football (as in kick the ball, not as in wear huge fuck-off costumes and run into your opponents), more than about famous football stars.
Jess (played by Parminder Nagra) is an 18 year old Indian girl, who meets Jules (played by the gorgeous Keira Knightley, known from Star Wars etc). Jules talks Jess into joining her football team. Jess does this in secrecy, because her parents want her to grow up as a good indian girl, not as some football playing hooligan.
The film progresses from here - Jess is of course one of the star players before too long, falls in love with her coach, and is spotted by an American talent scout at one of the games.
So far so good. The film is quite engaging, and the sheer girl power, combined with a fair amount of shots of Keira Knightly showing off her perfect body and some funny situations makes the film worth watching.
However, the film has a major shortcoming; I am not sure how accurate the portraying of the Indian family is, but I think (and hope) that it is very wrong. The family becomes a parody of themselves, leaving the whole movie with an undercurrent of race issues that I would think we should be over by now.
Update: a noder points out that things really can be this bad in some families. In that case, part of my criticism of the film falls away, but another part becomes apparent: If things are really this bad, then the filmmakers should somehow have tried to make the whole film more believable.
Mind you, the film is definitely worth watching for the girls alone. But wait a minute - wasn't all of this about giving girl football a chance? All in all, Bend it like Beckham was a good idea that failed miserably at having any deeper meaning. Just another entertainment flick, in other words.
Director - Gurinder Chadha
Writers: Gurinder Chadha - Paul Mayeda Berges - Guljit Bindra
Length - 120 minutes
Release date - 12th of april 2002