Bend it like Beckham


In this essay I will discuss how Jess’ parents personal and religious beliefs effect Jess’ life in the film Bend It Like Beckham. Jess’ family are Indian, and are all very religious, especially her parents. This makes it hard for Jess to do certain things, such as playing soccer and dating non-Indian boys, because she is afraid she will be breaking rules set by her culture or religion.


One thing Jess loves is playing soccer, although her family makes it hard for her to do this. Jess’ father doesn’t want her to play due to a past racist experience he had. He used to play cricket but was ridiculed for being Indian. Therefore he is worried that his daughter may experience the same thing. Jess’ mother also doesn’t want approve of her playing soccer. She is old fashioned with her view of a women’s role in the family. The mother believes that Jess should be learning to cook Indian recipies rather than “playing” soccer. I can’t agree with Jess’ mother, as my mum has always supported me in the sports I have played, and does not hold the same view on women in the household.


Through soccer Jess meets Joe. Joe is the coach of the soccer team Jess plays for behind her parent’s backs. Jess’ relationship with Joe is affected because although she really likes him, her culture does not allow her to date or marry a white Irish boy, which is what Joe is. This puts great strain on their relationship plus the fact that Jess’ mum would not approve of her hanging around him, especially seeing as he is not Indian. Although, Jess and Joe have something’s in common. They have both been the butt of racist, which I think helps them to understand each other.


One problem Jess has to face with Joe and her family is lying. Her parents do not allow her to play therefore she lies to them in order to play without them knowing. She either tells her parents that she is working (even though she doesn’t even have a job) or pretends to be sick when her parents go out, before sneaking out when they’ve left. She also lies to them about the shoes she’s buying for her sisters wedding. She tells her parents she’s buying two pairs when she actually buys one pair of shoes and spends the rest on soccer boots.


Jess also finds it hard to tell her family about her feelings towards Joe. We know she likes him and we know he likes her, but her culture restricts her to what type of boy she dates. One example of this is in the changing room after soccer when Jess tells the girls that she would never be allowed to date a white, black or Muslim boy, only and Indian. I feel sorry for Jess because she knows she shouldn’t be involved with Joe, but angry too because her culture forbids her to do so.


Although jess’ culture and religion can be quite strict in some aspects, jess still has a lot of respect for it. She balances her open-mindedness and her religion well, for while she may want to play sport and date a non-Indian, she never jeopardizes her religion to satisfy her needs. In the film there is a scene where jess’ father does not believe what jess is saying. He asks her to swear on the name of their God. When she does so her father believes her for he knows how much respect Jess has for their religion and that she would not swear on his name is she was lying.


At the end of the film, Jess’ parent’s personal and religious beliefs don’t affect her life. While they may have made it difficult, she does end up playing soccer, she does get together with Joe and she does tell her parents the truth about her feelings. It’s a good thing that her parents changed their minds, because people shouldn’t have to restrict their feelings and dreams to what their culture permits. People should be free to live their life according to how they want to.