'Women can do anything!'



Bend It Like Beckham
Directed by Gurinder Chadha
Starring Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley
Screening at major cinemas

This film is excellent because it encourages young women to play soccer! It is a satirical comedy about the ambitions of two young women who want to play professional soccer (or foootball). It sends up racial and gender stereotypes in contemporary multicultural London.

Two 18-year-olds, Jess Bhamra (Parminder Nagra), who worships England football star David Beckham, and Jules (Keira Knightley), who is a striker for the local women's team, the Hounslow Harriers, join together to pursue their dream of becoming famous women soccer players in the US league — the only fully professional women's competition in the world.

The ups and downs of their quest and the barriers thrown up by their families makes for funny and barbed viewing. Jess's mother dearly wants her to settle down and marry a good Indian boy from a suitable family. Jules' mother is worried her daughter's preference for football over boys might indicate lesbian tendencies.

When the young women finally achieve their goal of sporting scholarships in California, Jess's mother finally resigns herself with the remark: "Well, at least I've taught her how to make a full Indian dinner!"

The satirical treatment of prejudiced attitudes toward same-sex relationships is another good feature of the movie.

The under-14 girls team at the New Farm United Club in Brisbane loved the film, as it showed young women can play soccer for fun, but can also be highly skilled at a traditionally male-dominated sport. They enjoyed the film's theme that "Women can do anything!"

British-Indian director Gurinder Chadha, who also made the wonderful Bhaji on the Beach, has created a delightful film of modern multiculturalism in a Western society, full of life and colour.

How is it that countries like Britain — and even more so that so-called paradise of multiculturalism, Australia — which have had some success in mixing and matching cultures of many nations, can still be so unwelcoming to asylum seekers in genuine need?

Does this indicate the limitations of "multiculturalism" in creating a real internationalism in our relatively pampered Western societies?

Go and see this ultimate "feel good" movie for 2002!

From Green Left Weekly, July 31, 2002.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.

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