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Towelhead (2007)
"Nothing Is Private" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama  |  26 September 2008 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 9,957 users   Metascore: 57/100
Reviews: 61 user | 113 critic | 31 from

A young Arab-American girl struggles with her sexual obsession, a bigoted Army reservist and her strict father during the Gulf War.



(written for the screen by), (novel)
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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rifat Maroun (as Peter MacDissi)
Gemmenne de la Peña ...
School Photographer
Sales Clerk
Michael McShae ...
Middle School Jerk
D.C. Cody ...
Middle School Jerk


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

neighbor | boy | girl | gulf war | school | See All (96) »


How can you find yourself if no one can see you? See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong disturbing sexual content and abuse involving a young teen, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



| | |

Release Date:

26 September 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Towelhead  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$52,823 (USA) (12 September 2008)


$371,446 (USA) (17 October 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


Melina tells Jasira that an adult having sex with someone under the age of 16 is considered statutory rape. In Texas, however, that age is 17. See more »


[first lines]
Barry: 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]
Barry: this year, your gonna shut them up. Only, probably you shouldn't tell your mom about this.
See more »


Features Married with Children (1987) See more »


Ciel de Paris
Written by Pierre Dudan
Performed by Jean Sablon
Courtesy of DRG Records Incorporation
Under license from DRG Special Markets
By arrangement with DRG International Group
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

An extremely hard movie to watch. Funny and sexually disturbing.
28 September 2008 | by (Manchester, UK) – See all my reviews

How Can You Find Yourself if No One Can See You?

Plot: A young Arab-American girl struggles with her sexual obsession, a bigoted Army reservist and her strict father during the Gulf War.

I got really, really, but I mean, really lucky to catch this at the Deauville American Film Festival. Can you imagine it? I flew all over to France to see Alan Ball's new movie. Well, I did it. Anyway, Nothing is Private (or Towelhead, as it is called now) is the new film written for the screen, produced and directed by Alan Ball and based upon the novel Towelhead by Alicia Erian. Some people say this movie is a porno and that is sick. But, I can, proudly, compare it with "American Beauty" (also one of my favourite movies, also). You can call me whatever you want and say that I'm nuts, but that's my point of view.

The film is set on the year 1991 on the Gulf War. When I first read the novel I thought: Well, this doesn't looks like a book that no one will ever adapt to the cinema. But, when I saw the film I thought: Oh, my God! What a great adaptation of the book. And, besides, I really loved American Beauty. And it has beautiful and hauntingly dark screenplay, intelligent direction and superb performances. I mean, Summer Bishil's performance is one of the most unforgettable ones of the last decade. Some may find it offencive, but you have to have an open mind to watch this. The most sexually explicit and disturbing movie I've ever seen since Stanley Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut'. I correct; since Bernardo Bertolucci's 'The Dreamers'. When you first watch this you feel like gut-punched. But, if you can get over the whole movie, and you have an open mind, you'll enjoy and love it. This is a true masterpiece. I believe that with the direction, with the screenplay and with the performances, this will get more than one Academy Award.

Verdict: One of the most daring, talking on a mature sexual way, movies of the last 50 years. Stunningly satirical and darkly and shockingly disturbing. A sexist teenage satire on the style of 'Juno' and 'Ghost World'. A superb drama. Simply, a Great Movie. Quite disturbing, not recommended to people that doesn't have an open criterion.

Nothing Is Private. Warner Independent Pictures. 2008. 116 min. UK: No Certificate. US: R. Written for the screen and directed by Alan Ball. Based upon the novel Towelhead by Alicia Erian. Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Peter Macdissi, Summer Bishil, Maria Bello and Toni Collette.

39 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
One of the most horrifying scenes I've watched fieldsofbarley
if aaron eckhart was my neighbour and tried to do me i totally would. MoonbeamEagle
Melina's husband: How does he know Arabic? erez-yam
What year is this movie supposed to take place in? iliketodissectboys
You may have her leg, but I have the rubber coolatina101
inconsistency in the dialog erez-yam
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