January 26, 2004

Bend it Like Beckham

One of our vacation viewings, wherein we discovered the blended joy of TiVO with DirecTV plus Pay Per View, resulting in a movie that you pay for once and watch at your leisure with no late fees.

I started an entry about this one some days ago but I realized I didnít know what to say. You have to understand, I was immersed in screenwriting and film for much of my adult life and before that I was a History and Literature major. I know how to talk about movies, how to evaluate story, how to analyze text. But hereís the thing. The story of the movie? Been done. Rocky meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Nothing terribly subtle about the telling, either. Fairly straight-ahead. And yet. Once the story got going, I liked it. A lot. Something about the performances, in part, but thatís also directing, a kind of offhand no-need-to-underline-everything attitude, a nice interplay between the two female friends (are Dan and I the only ones who expected a kiss?) (except of course that we knew the movie had been a breakout hit with no mention of lesbian content, so we knew not to expect it for real, but boy was the subtext there). Also an unexpectedly nice build of the (hetero) romantic relationship. I actually believed the growing bond between the two, that they shared something beyond a physical attraction. I also understood for the first time the social pressures on a family that lives so completely within an ethnic enclave, that itís not just fusty parochialism that makes parents disapprove of steps outside the known and familiar, there are repercussions. I appreciated all that. And the movie made sense to me, character sense, and itís rare that a fluffy movie does that.

I liked it. A lot. In the end, I guess despite its unsubtle approach, the film had its own kind of subtlety.

Posted by Tamar at January 26, 2004 11:00 PM

Hey, of course the story's not original. As I've been telling my students this week, remember there are only two plots: someone goes on a journey, ot a stranger comes to town (if you define "journey," "stranger," and "town" loosely enough).

It's a fun game to play with literature (including our own stories!) but even more fun with movies, since the form tends to expose the big picture. I'd say Beckham's both.


Posted by: Chris at January 27, 2004 02:08 AM

I loved Bend It Like Beckham and thought it was head and shoulders better than Greek Hoo-ha.

And yes, I was expecting some chick-on-chick action. I read somewhere that it might have been in the original story but then they decided to go more mainstream. Actually, I suspected that the Keira Knightly character was lesbian, but that Parminder would reject her. Simply because Keira's walls were covered with posters of Mia Hamm and other women jocks, and Parminder had the Beckham thing going (though it never seemed sexual).

Posted by: pooks at January 27, 2004 06:15 PM

Sure, Chris, you can always do that. Isn't it Lajos Egri who broke story down into twenty seven basic plots? (Lovers meet, Death of a loved one, the stranger in town, etc.) Not sure. But in this case I meant something more formulaic than that. There's basic story that underlies everything and there's "I know all the plot twists and didn't I see this same movie last year?" But this one did ultimately rise above that. Quite nicely.

And agreed, Pooks, it's way better than the cliche-ridden My Big Fat Greek Hoopla.

Posted by: Tamar at January 27, 2004 10:34 PM