Director Gurinda Chandha came to prominence in 2002 with this movie about the individual’s right to choose their own destiny, rather than give in to what is expected of them. Despite that, it’s basically a feel good comedy following Jess Bharma, a teenager from a fairly traditional Indian family and her close friend Jules, who supports and inspires Jess’ quest to become a professional footballer, inspired by her adoration for David Beckham, shared with her friend Jules. Her family are dead set against this career choice, preferring her to settle down and start having children as soon as possible but with the help of Jules and her football coach Joe, she opts to follow her dream and break out of the confines of the society she has grown up in.
As Jess, Parminder K. Nagra is superb and beguiling, the audience rooting for her from the moment she steps onto the pitch. She plays Jess with great delicacy, making her likeable and inspiring in her determination to succeed but without wanting to hurt her parents.
Keira Knightley as Jules is brilliant support, another heart warming character whose friendship with Jess underpins the entire movie. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, often cast as sneering villains plays a romantic role for once as the coach who teaches Jess about more then just how to kick a ball and both Shaheen Khan and Juliet Stevenson as the mothers of Jess and Jules respectively, elegantly demonstrate that they are two sides of the same coin, neither really understanding their daughter’s wishes. Stevenson in particular never puts a foot wrong but then does she ever?
It’s feminist without hitting you over the head, quirky without being odd and thoroughly entertaining, a great cast bringing a well written script to life. You’re not going to find the answer to any of the great questions here but you are guaranteed to be entertained from start to finish and it does have some thought provoking observations about the racism that still sadly persists in this country. It’s full of hilarious moments so even if you have no interest in football, make sure you see it.
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Cast: Juliet Stevenson, Paven Virk, Keira Knightley, Frank Harper, Preeya Kalidas, Trey Farley, Ameet Chana, Archie Panjabi, Shaheen Khan, Pooja Shah, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Parminder Nagra, Saraj Chaudhry, Anupam Kher, Shaznay Lewis
Country: UK | Germany | USA
Language: English | Punjabi | Hindi | German
Release Date: 1 August 2003