Towelhead Reviews

Top Critic
David Fear
Time Out
November 17, 2011
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
December 17, 2008
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.
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December 11, 2008
There is hardly a scene that does not produce exquisite discomfort and a strong desire to be somewhere else.
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Ben Lyons
At the Movies
November 5, 2008
It wasn't enjoyable at any level.
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Ben Mankiewicz
At the Movies
November 5, 2008
This movie will challenge you on a number of levels, including some beliefs you'd never thought you'd question.
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
October 24, 2008
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 | Original Score: 1.5/4
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 18, 2008
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Tasha Robinson
Chicago Tribune
October 18, 2008
It's impossible to look away.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Gary Goldstein
Los Angeles Times
October 18, 2008
Summer Bishil turns in a gutsy, quietly riveting performance as Jasira.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
September 26, 2008
It's Ball's complex and frank approach to subject matter normally depicted in black-and-white terms that distinguishes Towelhead from so many coming-of-age dramas before it.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Christy Lemire
Globe and Mail
September 26, 2008
The performances make the material more human and accessible, mainly from the film's brave young star, Summer Bishil.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
September 25, 2008
It's too much, too heavy-handed. Disturbing is one thing. Prurient is another.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
September 24, 2008
The most deeply disturbing, downright discomfiting movie about teen sexuality since Thirteen.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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John Hartl
Seattle Times
September 19, 2008
Towelhead needs more breathing room in order to allow the central relationships to grow, but it's a movie that sticks with you.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
September 19, 2008
It is so disturbing it makes you uncomfortable watching it. For the price of admission, you become an unwilling voyeur.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
September 19, 2008
Gripping, disturbing, powerful and likely outright offensive to many people, Towelhead is an often brutal study of clashing cultures, adolescent abandonment and sexual confusion.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
September 19, 2008
[Director] Ball's trying to be honest about adolescent coming of age, but since he's dishonest about everything else, the movie collapses in on itself, ending with a laughably pat resolution that renders Towelhead a Bizarro World After School Special.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Christopher Orr
The New Republic
September 19, 2008
For a film that presents itself as a broadside against prejudice, Towelhead spends an awful lot of time flattering the prejudices of its audience.
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
September 19, 2008
I understand what the film is trying to do, but not why it does it with such crude melodrama.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Neely Tucker
Washington Post
September 18, 2008
It's clever and original with an excellent cast. Ball's script catches a lot of the novel's pop, often word for word.
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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
September 18, 2008
Not since Splendor in the Grass has there been such a candid and sympathetic account of the mixed messages, double-standards, giddy highs and hormonal free falls experienced by teenage girls.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
September 12, 2008
Towelhead tries hard to be incendiary and gutsy, and it sometimes succeeds. But to what gain?
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Dana Stevens
Slate
September 12, 2008
A movie that, for all its good intentions, feels thoroughly phony and mildly embarrassing, like an extended PSA about inappropriate touching.
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Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
September 12, 2008
This third-act redemption raises Towelhead several notches, but it still ends up feeling like a well-acted and well-intentioned after-school special, a long way from the vividness and texture of Ball's television work.
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
September 12, 2008
Towelhead is definitely not for all tastes, but it shows a bravery that's increasingly rare in American movies.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
September 12, 2008
As a first-time feature director, [Ball] seldom lets the material speak for itself.
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Bob Mondello
NPR.org
September 12, 2008
Ball has found an insinuating, perversely smooth tone in his script, but his less-adept direction inadvertently adds dissonance.
Full Review | Original Score: 5.5/10
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Stephen Holden
New York Times
September 12, 2008
A crude but scathing portrait of suburban life.
| Original Score: 3/5
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Rafer Guzman
Newsday
September 11, 2008
Towelhead spreads itself thin trying to tackle too many issues, but the nuanced characters, and an absolutely stellar cast, make this an uncommonly complex and compelling drama.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
September 11, 2008
Ball knows one trick, and it's sure over.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/5
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Scott Tobias
AV Club
September 11, 2008
Towelhead is like a great melting pot of writerly self-importance.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
September 11, 2008
[Director] Ball throws out so many provocations in Towelhead that it's no surprise a few land with a thud. But there's no questioning his talent for filmmaking. He's got the gift.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
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Nick Pinkerton
Village Voice
September 10, 2008
Ball, who can't conceive of human motives beyond the hypertrophic, smutty sexuality that's his stock in trade, primly divides his characters into avatars of Sick Repression or Healthy Liberation.
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
September 10, 2008
As it becomes clear that Ball, in essence, has just restaged American Beauty with a socially conscious paint job, the sensationalism of Towelhead looks more and more like a dramatic tic.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
September 8, 2008
The film is superbly acted, but it's hard to know what to feel except, 'How can any girl navigate this oversexualized culture?'
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
September 2, 2008
The ending may be too pat, but the journey to get there -- bitter, spicy, and poignant -- more than compensates for any last-minute fumbles.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Michael Rechtshaffen
Hollywood Reporter
September 19, 2007
Makes the provocative [American] Beauty look like a comparative tea party.
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Todd McCarthy
Variety
September 13, 2007
Nothing Is Private is transgressive without being effectively subversive, gutsy to no particular end. It simply lacks style, which counts for so much in this sort of thing.