Against the backdrop of the first Gulf War, Jasira Maroun is 13, physically well developed but naïve and unable to say no. As puberty arrives, her mother sends her from Syracuse to Houston to her curt, up-tight, Lebanese-born father. Over the next few months, Jasira must navigate her father's strict indifference, her discovery of sexual pleasure, the casual racism of a neighbor boy and her classmates, the sexual advances of the boy's father, the proffered friendship of a pregnant neighbor, and her attraction to Thomas, an African-American classmate whom her father forbids her to see. Things happen to her, but can she take responsibility and control, or is tragedy inevitable? Written by
Actress Summer Bishil turned 18 before filming started, allowing her to play the 13 year old, sexually overactive Jasira without any restrictions as to what she could do or show in the movie. See more »
When Jasira is talking to her mother on the payphone when her father has locked her out, there is a "We Card" sticker visible in the convenience store window. The "We Card" tobacco program was not started until 1995, several years after the movie takes place. See more »
You're beautiful just the way you are, Jasira. Those other girls are just jealous because you're growing up faster than they are. And you're prettier than they are. Listen, don't let it get you down. Stupid names they're calling you. This year - just gimme a second
[wets the razor]
this year, your gonna shut them up. Only, probably you shouldn't tell your mom about this.
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Breaks stereotypes while remaining mostly realistic.
Towelhead's themes of racism, sexual development and the horrors that lie in the dark abyss of suburbia basically come down to one thing: stereotyping. The film goes through many different lives and stories, all through the eyes of 13-year old Jasira (played with great bravery and intelligence by Summer Bishil). Through her eyes we see how everyone around her is just stereotyped immediately by the people living in this world and even by the audience. The aggressive Arab-American, the ignorant redneck pedophile, the horny black teenager, the pregnant hippie, etc. All of these typical characters are alive in this world and while they do have some of the characteristics that you would expect from the stereotypes of the character, Alan Ball does a good job of making them more diverse, complex and simply human than you would expect.
There were some things I really liked and some that I really didn't like. It all felt kind of awkward to me, but I think that helped the themes of the story in a way. Either way, Aaron Eckhart gave a really fantastic performance. He uses that boyish charm and those unimaginably handsome looks to make a horrifically despicable character borderline likable until his final scenes. One of those performances where you know that he's only going to bring horrible things to the main character's life and he makes you so uneasy when he's in a room alone with her, but you can't take your eyes off of him. A truly fascinating performance. I really think he's one of the very best actors working today. Peter Macdissi and Summer Bishil were also great, just a little less-so than Eckhart.
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