I fell in love with Bend it Like Beckham the moment I saw it. I used to watch it often. It has so many things I love in movies: a sweet romance, a nice balance of comedy and drama, a message of female empowerment, and a relatable heroine. This is truly a movie I adore.
However, it’s been at least a decade or more since I’ve seen it. I wondered if I would still swoon for Jess and Joe. Would I notice things I missed in the past? Would I have a new appreciation for the characters? Most importantly, has the film aged well?
I had many thoughts while watching Bend it Like Beckham, here are some of them.
Bend It Like Beckham Is A Film About Family As Much As It Is A Sports Movie
Bend it Like Beckham is an underrated family film. It’s not necessarily a kid-friendly movie, but a film that the whole family can enjoy. The story's very much rooted in familial obligations, parental bonds, and even issues and trauma that parents can sometimes inflict on their children.
Above all, it’s about love. All families may have issues, but they can overcome them if they put love first and put a child’s needs and wants ahead of stubbornness. This is also a film that puts the father and daughter relationships at the forefront.
Jess’s (Parminder Nagra) mother (Shaheen Khan) has more comedic moments, but Jess’s relationship with her father (Anupam Kher) becomes a focal part of the film, especially towards the end of it.
It's a heartwarming and feel-good movie that revolves around the importance of family, for better or worse.
It Was Always Obvious That Jules Liked Joe
I remember, when I first saw the film, I was shocked when Jules (Keira Knightley) gets upset seeing Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and Jess almost kiss. I felt bamboozled that she liked him. Clearly, my younger self wasn’t paying attention.
Rewatching the movie made me see how obvious it is from the start. Not only does she make it apparent, despite her denial, but clearly Joe knows as well. At moments, he seems a little uncomfortable with the situation and Jules’s attempts at flirting.
In retrospect, her telling Jess that Joe may be fired for sleeping with a girl that he coaches may be a true statement, but also something he may have said to her to shut down any of her fantasies about them being together.
Like Jess, I failed to see Jules’s obvious feelings for Joe.
Joe And Jess Are One Of The Best Slow Burn Movie Romances
I would argue that Bend it Like Beckham is one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time. I am even more convinced after rewatching it. I always thought Joe was this much older man trying to date a teen girl, so even though I liked their pairing, it was a little creepy. The power dynamics were way off. Rewatching it, I don’t think Joe is supposed to be that much older than Jess and Jules.
Jules mentions that he was on the boys’ team before his injury, and she begged him to coach the girls’ team. This likely means that he is only a few years older than them, which makes the romance much less creepy. He also waits until she’s no longer a part of his team to officially pursue her.
Besides the rewatch clearing that up, it highlighted Joe’s caring and sweet nature. He’s the opposite of a macho soccer player. He shares his feelings and trauma quite easily. He’s also very self-aware and reflects on his past mistakes.
Additionally, Joe puts Jess’s needs above his own. He also fights for her to continue to go after her dreams. Joe cares for his team and is a pretty good coach — despite developing feelings for one of the girls he coaches. He also respects Jess and plans to win her family over while she’s in America.
Furthermore, Joe plans to wait for her while they’re so far apart. They don’t make enough romantic leads like him anymore. I'd rather see more sweet, caring partner romances than more enemies-to-lovers movies.
Bend It Like Beckham Showcases The Spice Girls As Much As It Does Beckham
Bend it Like Beckham shows its decade. It feels very early 2000s, especially with the outfits and music. I love that about it. Rewatching it, I noticed the soundtrack features songs by Spice Girls members Melanie C and Victoria Beckham — very typical late '90s or early 2000s trappings.
This feels like a natural pairing, because it uses Victoria’s husband's name in the title. It's also all about girl power, and one of the great movies about female friendship. These are all things that the Spice Girls valued.
It’s also even more girl power centric by being a great movie by a female director, Gurinder Chadha. The addition of music by Spice Girls members just adds to the female empowerment vibe.
I Like The Way It Shows Indian Culture
I am not Indian, Indian-American, or British Indian, so I can’t say from personal experience whether or not the film portrays any of these cultures accurately. But I can say that I feel like it does a good job of helping to showcase a culture that some may know little or nothing about.
It does so in a natural way, such as Jess’s explanation of how her family only wants her to date an Indian boy based on their cultural traditions, and Bend It Like Beckham featuring Punjabi dialect. It also debunks certain stereotypes, like arranged marriages. The movie highlights the beauty of some Indian traditions. For example, the marriage party scene being spliced with the big soccer match is a subtle and brilliant way to show the thrill of both moments.
I Would Love A Bend It Like Beckham Sequel
I am not someone who hates the idea of reboots, remakes, or sequels 20+ years later. However, they don’t excite me, either. With so many of them, it’s hard to want more of them, especially since they tend to be...fine. They play heavily into nostalgia, Easter eggs, and can be a fun trip to yesteryear. They aren’t movies I love.
However, Bend it Like Beckham has a lot of great elements that may make it work as a sequel. We could learn so much, such as did Joe and Jess make it work? If they did, how does life look for them now? If they didn’t, why? How has Jess’s soccer career been going? Are Jules and Jess still friends? What are the rest of the Bhamra family up to?
A sequel isn’t necessary, but it would be a welcomed addition, especially if the same team got back together to make it.
This is one of the great sports movies for people who know nothing about sports. I know nothing about European soccer but that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of it. That’s just one of my many other thoughts. Here are a few others:
The mothers are really the comedy MVPs of this movie. Juliet Stevenson and Shaheen Khan are so funny.
Joe’s dad seems pretty horrible. It’s nice he calls him at the end, but a quick resolution isn’t necessary.
Bend It Like Beckham, in another life, could have been great YA fiction.
I noticed that Jess wears a number 7 jersey, one of Beckham’s jersey numbers. That’s a cool little detail.
We needed a flash forward at the end showing Christmastime and Jess telling her parents about Joe. That could have been a hilarious final moment.
Bend It Like Beckham is currently one of the best movies to stream on Disney+. It’s a must-watch family movie and romantic dramedy that's for anyone who dreams and dreams big.