At first blush, this Bend It Like Beckham is like Sixteen Candles, noted Maggie while we were watching the beginning of the film. It's about a girl who is overshadowed by the details surrounding the commencement of her sister's wedding. But that is just one aspect of a surprisingly complex and heartwarming film. And it's not just the addition of soccer that makes it so.
Jess Bhamra (played by Parminder K. Nagra) is tied down by her family's orthodox Sikh culture. When footballer Jules Paxton (Keira Knightley) notices her skills playing in the park against some young men, she gets Jess involved with a young womans' football league. The events snowball from there, causing her to have to lie to her family increasingly to hide her activities from them. Eventually, it comes to a head.
Along the way, there is plenty of humor. Jules' family, though they are brittish, have their own problems with her footballing, different than Jess' Sikh problems. Jules' mother is a bit worried no man would be interested in her daughter, because of footballing. (please, suspend your disbelief)
This story does not go for the easy solution to Jess' problems. Although it does take a couple of Hollywood turns, we would be cheated if after all her struggling, Jess somehow saw that the sneaky solution was staring her in the face all along. No, when the house lights go up we need to know that Jess is still part of her loving, if overbearing family. Just as a child grows and matures, a parents love matures from something simple and a little selfish into something much more rich and beautiful. But look out for the growing pains.