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A Theme of Being Different in Bend It Like Beckham

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A Theme of Being Different in Bend It Like Beckham Essay

Bend It Like Beckham is a 2002 British-German romantic comedy-drama sports film produced, written and directed by Gurinder Chadha. The movie supports the idea that it is normal to be different and not be the stereotypical person that your family or culture demands. We are reminded of this theme throughout the film in many different ways. It is a coming of age film or in other words a bildungsroman story. The movie displays the ideas of culture, familial obligations, relationships and sexuality. As can be seen in the film, the characters who are different have to overcome numerous obstacles and summon inner strength and self-belief. Jess, Jules and Tony are the three characters who struggle to find themselves and get to know their strengths as well as their weaknesses.

The film’s protagonist Jess struggles to find the perfect balance between family expectations, conform to society’s expectation of a traditional Indian woman and her passion for soccer . When the movie begins, Jess dreams of playing football professionally and her family supporting her. She idolises everything about David Beckham, the way he looks but mainly how talented he is at Soccer. When she gets the opportunity to start playing soccer competitively, she tries her best to commit without telling her parents, as a result Jess’ parents not only find out but she is forbidden to play football. Then she still chooses to defy her parents by not respecting their wishes for her to leave the team. Ultimately Jess chooses to continue to play football. When Jess returns from Germany, she faces the wrath of her parents and Jess and struggles to juggle everything that she has on her plate. Her parents are hurt, upset and disappointed when they find out about Jess playing football. Not only did she hide that truth about football but she lied about having a job. Part of the reason Jess’ parents are so against Jess playing football is that she isn’t focusing on her study, not planning on being a lawyer like her parents would like her to be and doing something that is not normal. Jess later explains that she is not a traditional Indian woman, nor did she want to do.

Tony, Jess’s best friend does not conform to societies expectations either. It turned out that they had more in common with each other then they thought, and in a big way. Tony reveals to Jess that she is not the only one who has a crush on David Beckham. When Tony reveals to Jess that he is a homosexual the first thing that Jess says is ‘but your Indian’. This indicates that Jess views that homosexuality in an Indian culture, may not be as accepting as other culture. Tony only reveals to Jess that he is homosexual when Jess needs support and when she needs to know that she is not the only one who feels as though she is letting others down. In a way, Jess and Tony are in the same boat as far as feeling as though if they let people see the real them, they will be a disappointment or let others down. The more they surpress their true emotions and the real them, the more it gets to them. Eventually when Tony tells everyone about him, everyone is confused and a bit upset but once Tony’s family, close friends and community understood that this is who he really was the whole time. Tony’s family eventually learn to support Tony’s decision of coming out of the closet as they knew that this was what was best for him as a person and a son.

Jules, a character who struggles continuously to conform to her mother’s expectation. As she is an only child, all of the focus is placed on Jules. When her mother had a daughter, she wanted to be able to relate to her, teach her life lessons about being a woman and bond with her over boys, hair and makeup. Jess’s father on the other hand, encourages her to play football as he would prefer Jess to play soccer then ‘run around with boys’. As the movie continues, Jules’ mother (Paula) has to come to terms with the fact that Jules is a tomboy and support her and her dreams. The interest that Paula portrays in Jules’ soccer improves throughout the film, she first tries to understand the common ‘off side’ soccer rule, then slowly agrees to come to Jules’ games and by the end of the film, Paula is waving her daughter off at the airport supporting Jules’ dream and future. During the middle of the film, Jess and Joe, kiss in Germany. This is when we see the other side to Jules. This brings out Jules’ anger and frustration towards Jess as she believed that Jess understood how she felt about Joe. They eventually come to an understanding about the kiss and agree to put it behind them. When their relationship has been mended, they once again, enjoy each other’s company. If anything, the kiss strengthened their relationship even more then previously.

In conclusion, it is acceptable to not be the typical person that your culture, family or friends demand and not conform to society’s expectations. By the end of the film, most of the characters and their families understand this. Throughout the film the characters stay true to themselves and their beliefs. Mothers to Jules and Jess gain support once they realise that this is who their children really are. As a parent, they believe that it is their duty to support their children’s dreams and aspirations. The main themes that are displayed in Bend it Like Beckham are friendship, culture clashes, sexism, racism, family and growing up. At the beginning of the film text, the characters are one thing but as the film text progresses, the characters show their true colours and are not afraid to show people the real them. This is why it is imperative that people are not judgemental. Until one is put in their position, he won’t understand the full effect of judge. 

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A Theme Of Being Different In Bend It Like Beckham. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from
“A Theme Of Being Different In Bend It Like Beckham.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021,
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