Towelhead

2007

Towelhead

Critics 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.

49%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 114

57%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,580
User image

Tap to review this movie

  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Rate this movie

    Oof, that was Rotten.

    Meh, it passed the time.

    It’s good – I’d recommend it.

    Awesome!

    So Fresh: Absolute Must See!

    What did you think of the movie? (optional)



  • You're almost there! Just confirm how you got your ticket.

  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Step 2 of 2

    How did you get your ticket?

    • Fandango

    • AMC (Coming Soon)

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Cinemark (Coming Soon)

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Regal (Coming Soon)

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Bought somewhere else

    You're almost there! Just confirm how you got your ticket.

  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Rate this movie

    Oof, that was Rotten.

    Meh, it passed the time.

    It’s good – I’d recommend it.

    Awesome!

    So Fresh: Absolute Must See!

    What did you think of the movie? (optional)

  • How did you get your ticket?

    • Fandango

    • AMC (Coming Soon)

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Cinemark (Coming Soon)

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Regal (Coming Soon)

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Bought somewhere else

Where to watch

Towelhead Photos

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 in the suburbs while contending with racism and hypocrisy at every turn. Rifat lives in a modest, suburban Houston home next to racist reservist Mr. Vuoso (Aaron Eckhart) and meddling expectant mother Melina (Toni Collette). Adjusting to life in the suburbs isn't easy for young Jasira, though she tries her hardest to adapt to the unfamiliar environment by striking up casual conversations with her curious new neighbors. In the process, Jasira finds herself increasingly attracted to hormone-driven African-American teen Thomas (Eugene Jones). When Rifat finds out that his daughter's new boyfriend is black, he vehemently condemns the relationship. As America launches its initial invasion of Iraq, Jasira finds herself caught up in a potentially explosive situation that is only compounded by her raging hormones and the snooping of her pregnant, busybody neighbor. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Cast

News & Interviews for Towelhead

Critic Reviews for Towelhead

All Critics (114) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (56) | Rotten (58)

Audience Reviews for Towelhead

  • Nov 03, 2012
    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.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jun 07, 2012
    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.
    William D Super Reviewer
  • Jun 14, 2010
    It actually got potential to be a great drama but there's something missing, I dunno what.
    Cita W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 13, 2009
    Weird but definitely worth watching
    Brody M Super Reviewer

Towelhead Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features