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
This film, based on the book Towelhead by Alicia Erian, debuted at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival with the non-controversial title Nothing is Private. However, after consultation with Erian and Warner Brothers, the filmmakers decided to release the movie in the United States and other countries with the same title as the book, obviously an ethnic slur. The title was met with controversy and protests from the Arab-American community. Some complained about the slur itself, others accused Warner Brothers of choosing a buzz-generating controversial title that was misleading since the story centers more on Jasira's sexual behavior than her ethnicity. This and other topics are discussed on the DVD's two panel discussions. See more »
While interviewing the neighbor about the war he says at one occasion "Is that so" twice before he cuts of the tape, later when listening to the tape he only says it one time before the tape continues on to the second part of recording. 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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