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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English
  Extras
  • 10 Deleted scenes
  • Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Director/co-writer Gurinder Chadha and co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges
  • Featurette - Who Wants to Cook Aloo Gobi?
  • Animated menus
  • Music video
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • Recipe - Aloo Gobi

Bend it Like Beckham

Icon Entertainment/Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 108 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

With all the information available at our fingertips these days, we generally have fair warning when another blockbuster is on the horizon. Unfortunately, however, of late it also seems that Hollywood has been so busy trying to homogenise past successes into recycled scripts which, ironically, end up having limited appeal to the viewing public. Basically as the beancounters take over, the industry seems to have more often than not lost sight of the whole point of films – to entertain us in one way or another. Refreshingly this past year has offered up a couple of unpredicted successes, most notably the joyous My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which must surely have the studio bigwigs scratching their heads – either that or commissioning scripts for My Big Fat Iraqi Wedding, My Big Fat Finnish Wedding or even My Big Fat Amish Wedding... Whilst it didn’t really make much of a blip on the U.S. radars, Bend it Like Beckham certainly did both in England and here in Australia, and the reason is simple – it’s a damned fine feel-good flick with all the right ingredients.

Jesminder, or Jess, Bhamra (film newcomer Parminder K. Nagra) certainly doesn’t have the sort of ambitions that good Indian girls should. Rather than looking forward to snaring a bloke (or being sticky taped into an arranged marriage) and living a life of domestic drudgery cooking copious amounts of dhal for the rest of her natural days, she yearns for soccer stardom. What’s quite handy about this dream is that she’s actually quite brilliant at the game – so much so that one day Jules (Keira Knightley), a painfully anorexic-looking member of the local women’s club the Hounslow Harriers, spots her playing with the boys in the park. She introduces herself, gets Jess along to a tryout, she impresses the rather sceptical coach, Joe (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), and she’s in. There’s just one problem, what will her very traditional parents think?

Needless to say they’re hardly impressed, and essentially forbid Jess from pursuing her ambition of being the female-equivalent of David Beckham (albeit with much better hair – not that this would be difficult to achieve, of course). Luckily for Jess, however, they are caught up in arranging the wedding of their other daughter, Pinky, so chances to sneak off and train anyway easily present themselves. Ah, but the community spy network is a solid one, and when word gets back to the Bhamra household of Jess' sneakiness it’s frowns all around. She’s brought shame on the family running around “half naked” in front of men, and all under the ever vigilant eye of Guru Nanak no less! The pressure is on for Jess to behave like a “proper woman”, and to give up these “silly” dreams of hers. Meanwhile, Jules is also under pressure from her Mum, who is hell-bent on feminising her for fear that her sports-mad offspring is a lesbian...

"There’s a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one of them without a fella..."

As Jess’ inner battle between wishing to pursue her dreams and loyalty to her family plays out, Joe goes into bat (erm, boot perhaps?) with her family, but to no avail. It all seems quite hopeless, but as we all know by now where there’s a will there’s a way and all that kind of stuff. Innit?

By far the most commercial film thus far from director Gurinder Chadha (Bhaji on the Beach, What’s Cooking?), Bend it Like Beckham manages to remain fresh and incredibly beguiling despite what is, in all honesty, a remarkably predictable and almost hackneyed plot. Whilst we can be pretty confident in our ability to predict the outcome of the film after about five seconds have elapsed, it’s testament to the witty and warm writing and, in particular, the wonderful cast that’s been assembled, that the film doesn’t have one moment that drags. It’s much more than an examination of the cultural issues facing many children of immigrants in the world today, for it has so many ingredients that we can all identify with – the pursuit of our dreams, family pressure and battles against stereotyping being just three of them.

  Video
Contract

As is becoming more commonplace nowadays, Bend it Like Beckham makes its way onto DVD at a ratio of 1.78:1 (anamorphically enhanced), abridged slightly at the sides from its original 1.85:1 cinematic ratio. And what an impression it makes!

Save for a couple of very minor instances of aliasing, a fleeting colour fluctuation around the 72 minute mark and one slightly annoying attack of moire on an escalator, the picture is near enough to perfect, with massive amounts of detail in most every frame and even some darker, night-shot scenes leaving nothing lost in murk. Remarkably colourful for an English film – none of that grey, drab bleakness here – from the greens of the soccer pitches and parks to the steroid-enhanced rainbow hues of Pinky’s wedding, this really looks a treat - and it's completely blemish-free. They even got the layer change perfect – it’s placed in a fade to black and should go by undetected if you’re not keeping an eye out for it.

  Audio
Contract

Sound comes to our rooms courtesy of a de rigueur Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which makes all the right noises. Dialogue comes through perfectly synched and as clear as crystal at most times – the only issues some may face are with the at times strong Indian accents. The surrounds are reasonably well utilised to add atmosphere to proceedings, bursting to life during some of the soccer games and wedding scenes, and the subwoofwoof adds some beefy subdoofdoof to much of the film’s varied soundtrack. Made up of a mixture of Eastern and Western tinged tracks, we get to hear everybody from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to Basement Jaxx, Blondie, Curtis Mayfield and a couple of solo Spice Girls. There’s also a version of The Power of Love (as in Jennifer Rush unfortunately, not Frankie Goes to Hollywood or even Huey Lewis & the News) sung in Punjabi by Amar – which proves you don’t have to understand the lyrics to find the song suicide-inspiringly annoying, a wussy non-Luciano version of Nessun Dorma plus an infectious take on Hot Hot Hot that will adhere to your synapses like a leech for days/weeks/years/decades/centuries. Trust me...

  Extras
Contract

The menus! Seeing as we seem to be accused of giving away spoilers for virtually typing “this is a film” nowadays, I won’t give anything away here. Suffice to say the animated menu, and in particular a couple of the menu transitions, are quite brilliant and should raise a hearty laugh - unless you’re boring and have no sense of humour at all, of course.

Hidden away within is a decent array of bonus bits and pieces, a couple offering a little originality for a change. All of these are in a ratio of 1.78:1 and are anamorphically boosted, except, curiously, for the trailers.

First up is an audio commentary from two thirds of the writing team in director Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges. Gurinder is fabulously chatty and brimming with enthusiasm for her creation, and holds sway over the bulk of the commentary with Paul acting much like a cattle prod to illicit more from her when things go quiet. There are occasional lapses as they seem to get caught up in some of the film’s scenes, but in all it’s an infectious listen with a fair bit of goss to be learned, although there’s little in the way of technical information imparted.

A behind the scenes featurette entitled She Shoots, She Scores! The Making of Bend it Like Beckham is next up. Running for 15:17, it is fairly typical promotional fare, but still manages to avoid being one of those hideous Hollywood-style love-fests. Amongst a selection of clips from the film are an array of interviews with most of the principal cast as well as Chadha, and there’s even a clip from the film’s premiere featuring a pressie from Posh’n’Becks.

Ten deleted scenes ensue, totalling 15.01 in all. Mainly concentrating on Pinky and Tito’s relationship, there are a couple of choice moments; however it’s easy to understand why these were cut as they muddy the film's main story thrust. The bulk of these excisions consist of extended wedding fight and dance scenes, and we’re left wondering just what happened to the rest of the hour or so of cut footage Chadha mentions in the commentary.

Popping into the music videos section yields a curious result, for rather than what is advertised exactly there’s footage of the cast and crew singing along to Hot Hot Hot, and an extended sequence of the film’s Vic’n’Dave–alikes mouthing the words. Again and again and again and again...

Visiting the trailers option offers up two, totalling 3:15 and played together as one lump. The first reflects the joy of the film much better than the second, which seems to go for some sort of ‘soccer is sexy” angle and just comes across as quite silly.

Now what slice of Indian culture would be complete without the food? Yum! Two culinary-based extras are included – a six page recipe for Aloo Gobi, and a featurette entitled Who Wants to Cook Aloo Gobi? (15:01). The latter is a blast, with Gurinder Chadha fulfilling her cooking show fantasies by popping into Soho restaurant the Red Fort to demonstrate just how to make what literally translates to “potato cauliflower” - a yummy curry for vegetarians - under the ever watchful and critical eyes of her Mum and Aunt.

  Overall  
Contract

A genuine feel-good flick that’s a perfect antidote for any of those blah days, Bend it Like Beckham comes home on a decently presented disc with an entertaining array of extras. It even manages to explain soccer’s mysterious off-side rule for those of us who just don’t get it – now, it’s something to do with teriyaki sauce, sea salt and posh mustard...

Laters!


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2173
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      And I quote...
    "Like it’s a genuine feel-good flick that’s a perfect antidote for any of those blah days, innit?"
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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