Towelhead - Rotten Tomatoes

Towelhead (2007)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: This story of politics, race and, sexual awakening has moments that pack a punch, but overall, Towelhead never quite achieves the nuance of helmer Alan Ball's television work.


Movie Info

Six Feet Under creator and American Beauty screenwriter Alan Ball makes his feature directorial debut with this screen adaptation of author Alicia Erian's controversial novel Towelhead. Jasira (Summer Bishil) is a 13-year-old Arab-American who's contending with the pains of adolescence when her life takes a sudden and unexpected turn. Sent to live with her stern Lebanese father, Rifat (Peter Macdissi), by her self-absorbed mother (Maria Bello), Jasira finds herself struggling to adjust to life … More

Rating: R (adult situations/language, sex)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Alicia Erian , Alan Ball
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 30, 2008
Box Office: $0.3M
Runtime:
Warner Independent - Official Site

Cast


as Mr. Vuoso

as Thomas Bradley
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Critic Reviews for Towelhead

All Critics (117) | Top Critics (39)

As a director [Ball] amplifies the flaws in his own writing; his supporting characters are too broadly pitched to take seriously, and he tends to smack you in the face with the point of every scene.

Full Review… | December 17, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

There is hardly a scene that does not produce exquisite discomfort and a strong desire to be somewhere else.

Full Review… | December 11, 2008
Film.com
Top Critic

It wasn't enjoyable at any level.

Full Review… | November 5, 2008
At the Movies
Top Critic

This movie will challenge you on a number of levels, including some beliefs you'd never thought you'd question.

Full Review… | November 5, 2008
At the Movies
Top Critic

It is certainly possible to make a transgressive movie about children in sexual jeopardy, and to do so in ways that realistically and intelligently depict the abuse while not revelling in it.

Full Review… | October 24, 2008
Toronto Star
Top Critic

It's impossible to look away.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Towelhead

A young Arab-American girl lives with her insensitive, racist father and grows to sexual awakening after she's raped by a neighbor.
This is the feel-good movie of the year if your idea of a great date movie is Bastard out of Carolina. At every plot turn, director and co-writer Alan Ball's film gets more and more disturbing. It packs in themes of sexual abuse and growing sexual maturity with themes of racism and parenthood. And while Toni Collette's character is supposed to be the liberal moral center of the film, most of the characters are so remarkably distasteful that no matter how hard Ball tries to make us see them as real, flawed people, the film comes off as disturbing for disturbing's sake. I suppose the film tries to present the American Dream as a flawed notion tainted by racism, leaving children as its most vulnerable victims, but instead the film merely amounts to a collection of atrocities.
The performances are all good. I haven't seen Aaron Eckhart play not-Aaron-Eckhart until this film, and Summer Bishil gives a wise-beyond-her-years portrayal of Jasira, the victim of the film's worst events.
Overall, this is a great film if you want to hate everything for a while.

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hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

½

Prolific screenwriter Alan Ball ("American Beauty," "Six Feet Under," "True Blood") has only tried his hand at direction a few times. "Towelhead," which he also wrote, was his first and (so far) last attempt at directing a feature film. Based on the mediocre results, I don't think he'll be directing any more films. He should stick to writing, especially television writing. That's where his talent lies.

"Towelhead" has some very interesting subject matter and has many very courageous aspects. It tells the story of a 13-year-old suburban girl of mixed Lebanese and white American heritage coming to terms with many things, including the break-up of her parents, her suddenly surging sexual desire, and anti-Middle Eastern prejudice.

Initially, I thought the film was going to be a send-up of the way semi-educated Americans perceive Middle Easterners. There's certainly plenty of that. But the center of the film is the girl's emerging sexuality. A major sequence depicts her learning to give herself orgasms, for example. We also see her exploring pornography and learning to flirt with both boys and men. What's perhaps most interesting is how the adults around her react.

This is very interesting subject matter. The original novel was written by an American woman of Middle Eastern descent (Alicia Erian), and it was intended not for titillation but for serious artistic exploration of the sexual side of life and the difficulties girls face in exploring their sexualities. Alan Ball, in adapting the screenplay, takes the subject matter seriously as well.

The problem is that the direction is horrendously flat and bland. Its style is also relentlessly television-like. It is obvious that Ball spent the 10 years leading up to the project completely immersed in television. After about an hour, I could barely watch it any longer. The editing is also so bad that the film ends up repeating itself over and over. The screenwriting also often seems unsure of what it wants to say or even explore. It's often also just flat-out boring.

Bottom line: great subject matter, weak film adaptation.

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Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

Very dark for a comedy,(at least I assume it was intended to be a comedy). Kind of in some ways like a Todd Solondz film. Good but I think tied up a little too easily at the ends and the actual ending I didn't like too much and couldn't see why they chose to end the film there.(Maybe it was meant to be hopeful, for me, I just found it off putting - not my favourite scene in any movie. LOL).
The young girl who plays Jasira is very good as were the rest of the cast.

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romy861
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

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