With apologies to anyone who was hoping my earlier two reviews were the result of being an all-around miserable person who is incapable of enjoyment: I really liked Bend It Like Beckham!
Even watching it for the first time in 2018, everything about Bend It Like Beckham evokes the early 2000s. (And not just because Jess and Jules aspire to play in an American professional women’s soccer league that folded after only three years of existence the same year the movie was released in the U.S.) It was as if montages and sweatsuits had just been invented. The feminism in the film borders a little too closely on the sort of dichotomous girl power of the early aughts that pitted tomboys against girly girls and implied that the former is inherently more self-actualized. But it actually feels like the movie’s values progress over the course of the hour and 50 minutes—and Juliet Stevenson’s pitch-perfect performance as the ditsy feminine archetype tips from problematic to intentional parody.
The movie definitely feels dated—but in a kitschy, music-video kind of way that doesn’t detract from the fun of it all. And if nothing else, it’s worth watching for its unique significance as a Western cultural emissary to North Korea.