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Movie Review:

"Bend It Like Beckham"

You know, I really didn't want to see this movie; I thought it was going to be a silly kid's or teenager's film gushing about the British-soon-to-be-Spanish soccer star David Beckham.

Well, that's what the trailer kind of looked like, anyway.

But it wasn't like that at all. Instead, I found a film rich in the story of a teenage girl, the daughter of a traditional Indian family, who doesn't want her to play soccer (OK, football, since this is set in London), even though she's very good at it, good enough to catch the attention of a blonde English girl who sees her playing in a park with some boys, and joins up with her team.

What we find is the conflict between modern society and the older generation who wants to preserve traditions... but underlying these conflicts are some old hurts, and we learn what it's like to be tolerant and respectful of other cultures. There's also some very funny and sly scenes involving Jess' (the Indian girl, played by Parminder Nagra) sister's traditional wedding (it'll make you think that this is "My Big Fat Indian Wedding"), and the mother of Jules (Keira Knightley), who winds up misinterpreting almost every relationship in the movie. I won't spoil your fun by telling you the outrageous things she winds up thinking.

Jules and Jess seem like real friends, with moments of joy and moments of conflict; the dialogue between them seems so real. Current Brit slang must include the word "brilliant" for anything that's really good, because this word pops up seemingly dozens of times in the film.

There's some very realistically portrayed soccer action, and of course, the obligatory happy ending, which I won't ruin for you here. Beckham himself is in the film, but only for a moment, and he doesn't even have any dialogue. Wonder what they paid him and his Spice Girl wife for that.

Go see this film; there's plenty of laughs, a story line that makes you think, and well-drawn characters that pull you right into the story and make you root for all of them.

AYRating: *** 1/2