Critic Reviews



Based on 31 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
To call Towelhead exploitative is to miss the point. What made Towelhead the novel so extraordinary was the honesty in Jasira's adolescent narrative voice, the genuine way she misguidedly, but honestly, conflates the sexual attention she receives with the parental affection she really needs. With the film, Ball, though he drops the book's first person narration, is faithful to that voice.
The Hollywood Reporter
Alternately disturbing, laceratingly satirical and affectingly poignant, the film, which he adapted from the novel, Towelhead, by Alicia Erian, is very much a companion piece to the Ball-penned "American Beauty" in its unwavering examination of the dirty little secrets and raging hypocrisies lurking just beyond all those manicured suburban lawns.
The result is a movie about the many forms of social and sexual abuse that does not make the abusee a victim but victor.
Miami Herald
The movie puts Jasira -- and the audience -- through the wringer, but it also makes the ride worth it.
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.
The heart of the movie is really in Jasira's moments with her father, a mass of contradictions that Macdissi plays with comic ferocity and genuine feeling.
The performances are nicely calibrated, even when the director isn't meshing them into a persuasive whole. Summer Bishil makes Jasira an appealing naif -- smart, precocious and curious, if too easily led by hormones.
The potency of the acting is also undercut by leaden pacing and a sense of claustrophobia.
As a first-time feature director, though, he (Ball) seldom lets the material speak for itself. Every shot is a statement, every scene sells an attitude.
So disturbing it makes you uncomfortable watching it.
Ball knows one trick, and it's sure over.

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