Bend It Like Beckham
An independent-minded young woman discovers the joys of football, much to her family's chagrin, in this upbeat British comedy drama. Jess Bhamra (Parminder Nagra) is an 18-year-old growing up in West London, where her family has taken every effort to stay in touch with its Indian heritage. Jess' father and mother (Anupam Kher and Shaheen Khan) are after their daughter to go to law school, learn to cook a traditional Indian dinner, and settle down with a nice Indian boy -- the latter of which is high on the agenda of her older sister Pinky (Archie Panjabi), who is soon to wed her longtime beau Teetu (Kulvinder Ghir). However, her family is unaware that Jess has a secret passion -- football (or soccer, as it's known in North America). While Jess' enthusiasm for football star David Beckham is obvious, given the fact his photos cover the walls of her room, her parents don't know that in her spare time she likes to play a friendly game in the park with some of the boys in the neighborhood. One day, while Jess and her pals kick the ball around, she meets Jules (Keira Knightley), who is quite impressed with Jess' skills. Jules plays with a local semi-pro women's football team, the Hounslow Harriers, and she thinks Jess has what it takes to make the team. Jess knows that her parents would never approve of their daughter playing football, so she doesn't tell them, and starts spinning an increasingly complex series of lies as she tries to keep up a double life as a student and a footballer. Jess soon discovers a number of her new friends have their own problems to overcome; Jules dreams of playing pro ball in America, but has to deal with her stubborn and disapproving mother (Juliet Stevenson), while Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Hounslow's Irish coach, still struggles with the disappointment of a career as a professional athlete which was dashed by a knee injury. Bend It Like Beckham was a significant box-office success in Great Britain and Europe, but didn't reach American theaters until nearly a year after it debuted in the U.K.