Gurinder ChadhaUSA / United Kingdom / Germany112 minutes2002ColourEnglish
More than 15 years after its release, Bend It Like Beckham is still in a league of its own. Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra (Parminder Nagra), a teen of Punjabi descent growing up in the UK, is not only obsessed with David Beckham, but is also a brilliant footballer herself. However, Jess' family does not support her passion: while her more traditional mother simply does not understand why she loves sports, her father cannot bear to see Jess experience the same racism he faced as a young man. Jess is simply unable to fathom a life without football, leading her to defy them in order to follow her dreams with her best friend, Jules (Keira Knightley).
A mix of rom-com, coming-of-age, girl empowerment, and family drama, and an excellent interrogation of racism and xenophobia within a projected queer subplot, Gurinder Chadha's genre-spanning film still feels radical and groundbreaking for its vulnerable exploration of the struggle to belong. Intricate and empowering, Bend It Like Beckham will make you laugh, cry, and believe that if you want something badly enough, you deserve to achieve it.