Monday, October 6, 2008

Movie Review- Towelhead



NOTE: When I looked this film up on IMDB.com. the title for it was Nothing is Private which may be a better title for the movie than Towelhead, but Towelhead is what the film is currently being shown in theaters as.

Towelhead is the story of a young women, Jasira, whose mother is White and father is Lebanese. At the beginning of the film, Jasira is living with her mother and her mother's boyfriend until the mother walks into the bathroom to find her boyfriend shaving her daughter's pubic area. The mother then realizes that Jasira should not be living in the same house as the mother's boyfriend and sends Jasira to live with her father in Houston. It seems unclear how long her parents have been divorced, but Jasira knows her father pretty well, but has not lived with him for many years. She is now living with her father in a brand new house in the 'burbs where two houses down live a White family with a young boy. The family comes to welcome Jasira and her dad to the neighborhood and are taken aback by the fact that their neighborhood has been invaded by Arabs. The father is in the National Guard and is about to be sent to Iraq in the first Gulf War under George Bush the First. The father played by Aaron Eckhart, is a stereotypical military Southern man with his blatant xenophobia and racism. He also is very creepy in the amount of attention he pays to Jasira. There are other neighbors that appear about midway through the film are played by Toni Collette and Matt Letscher who are a married couple just returned from the Middle East where they were Peace Corps workers. They also realize that Jasira may need some adult guidance and become involved in helping her to mature as much as they can.

The film follows Jasira and her developing sexuality as she has many different sexual experiences occur to her and the experiences that she initiates. As Jasira's sexuality and maturity are developing she is surrounded by an unstable environment with adults who are very immature and abusive toward her. She experiences physical and emotional abuse from her father and sexual abuse by another character in the film. She is also trying to figure out where her boundaries are sexually and struggling with hormones that are raging. Since the film focuses on the sex and sexual development of a 13 or 14 year old girl, it is very disturbing and cringe worthy at times. But these cringe worthy moments are what makes this film so strong. It is the struggles of the audience especially as adults who can see where the mistakes are being made and the problems when a child is maturing with few stable adult figures in their lives to help them to navigate through the hormonal rushes of the onset of puberty.

I saw this film with GG, of course, but there was no one else in the theater when we saw it. We were not sure why we were the only ones there. It was the opening weekend for the film and I didn't expect the theater to be packed, but I did think more people might be interested in the film. Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, and Toni Collette all have large parts in the film which I would have thought would have had drawn some people to the film. But I would recommend this film if you are willing to cringe at a film, but like Todd Soldonz, who did not direct Towelheads, films the film feels real because of the cringes not in spite of those moments.

2 comments:

Comrade Kevin said...

It's now on my list of films to see.

FranIAm said...

When this book came out I read it and I laughed hard and cried hard, often simultaneously.

I don't know how true to the book the film will be, but I cannot praise the book highly enough.

As someone who had their early sexuality tampered with by adults with bad judgment, I found that this book ... and this character represented what I had experienced and how I turned out brilliantly. Tragic and hilarious at once.

This movie is nowhere near out here in the hinterlands, but I will be the only person in the theatre if I must be, when it shows up.

Thanks for the review.