(In theaters, April 2003) Behold the most charming teenage sport romance since Bring It On. A successful blend of light ethnic drama and underdog comedy, this is the kind of low-budget film that doesn’t need much more money to keep the audience interested. A good script coupled with great performances… and voila! Keira Knightley may be the “sexiest tomboy beanpole on the planet” (to borrow an unfortunate expression from the embarrassing ads running on Aint-it-Cool-News), but she’s nowhere nearly as hot as Parminder Nagra, the adorable protagonist of the story. You don’t need to be a fan of soccer/football to cheer for our plucky heroine as she tries to reconcile both her Indian heritage and her English culture. (Don’t worry, it’s far from being as dreary as it sounds) Certainly a painless conversation piece about ethnic integration if there’s one, Bend It Like Beckham earns that highest distinction; a film that deserves to exist. While the script often takes easy dramatic shortcuts (“comic” misunderstandings can often be seen coming miles away), the film also exhibits a remarkable level of realism on how some characters react to some situations. Good stuff. The direction is appropriate, with frenetic soccer scenes and lush wedding sequences. Existing in a continuum forged by films like The Full Monty, My Big Fat Greek Wedding and East Is East, Bend It Like Beckham is one delicious piece of cinema. Please don’t miss it.