Socialist Worker

Bend It Like Beckham

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 1795

THE NEW film Bend It Like Beckham is a funny, entertaining look at multiracial relationships and football. Jess, a young Sikh woman, is obsessed with football, especially 'that skinhead boy', as her parents call David Beckham.

Jess wants to be a footballer like her hero. Her parents want her to do her A levels, go to university, become a solicitor and marry a Sikh boy. Jess starts to play for the local women's football team, the Hounslow Harriers. She becomes close to other players and the male coach, Joe. The film explores what it means to be a woman in the modern world.

Jess and her team mates' mothers oppose them playing football because it just isn't what women do. The daughters challenge their mothers' ideas. Jess's father doesn't want his daughter to play football in case she is exposed to the racism he encountered when he first came to Britain. He tried to play cricket for his local team but was laughed out by racists because of his turban. He hasn't played cricket since. Bend It Like Beckham was written and directed by Gurinder Chadha. Her other films, Bhaji on the Beach and What's Cooking?, explored similar issues.

The film has a vibrant crossover feel, with pop and Indian music merging into the football action and Sikh wedding celebrations. Bend It Like Beckham is a wonderfully uplifting comedy. It tackles big issues like racism, sexism and homophobia in a highly accessible way. It shows a multiracial Britain where stereotypes are being challenged but black people and women still have to fight for what they want.

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Article information

Sat 13 Apr 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1795
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