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Towelhead


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Product Details

  • Actors: Summer Bishil, Aaron Eckhart, Peter Macdissi, Chris Messina, Maria Bello
  • Directors: Alan Ball
  • Writers: Alan Ball, Alicia Erian
  • Producers: Alan Ball, Anne Carey, Christina Jokanovich, Peggy Rajski, Ted Hope
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 30, 2008
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001KQS3WU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,564 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Towelhead" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Towelhead: A Community Discussion:  Director/screenwriter Alan Ball hosts two panels, one including co-stars Summer Bishil and Peter Macdissi, the other including the novel's original author, Alicia Erian

Editorial Reviews

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

Customer Reviews

What was I supposed to feel watching this junk?
Rodney D. Carter
It gives you a good insight on some of the struggles faced by Middle Eastern's living in America, racism, and the issues faced by young girls.
Amy G.
The coming-of-age aspect of the film simply flattens any other subject.
Ronald Battista

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Red Wedge on January 16, 2009
Format: DVD
From the moment Thomas Newman's soundtrack opens the film, you know you are in the dark suburban underworld of Alan Ball. Much like Six Feet Under, Towelhead explores dysfunctional family relationships as experienced through the eyes of a 13-year-old Lebanese-American girl.

Many of Ball's familiar themes are present here - sexual awakenings, sexual deviance, abusive families - and as usual he handles the themes with an uncomfortable sensitivity. There are plenty of moments which you'd rather not be sharing with the troubled characters, but the film compels you to watch.

The film medium perhaps suits Ball's subject matter better than TV. Where Six Feet Under often threatened to destabilize its credibility with the implausible bad luck that his central characters endured, Towelhead manages to maintain its focus, offering up a tenderly traumatic, and darkly humorous story of Jasira's coming of age into an increasingly sexualized world.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Roland E. Zwick on January 8, 2009
Format: DVD
****1/2

Even at the tender young age of 13, the strikingly beautiful Jasira seems destined to go through life igniting the passions of the men and boys around her. A product of a mixed marriage (her mother is white, her father Lebanese) and a broken home, she lives with her strict, traditionalist dad in a Texas suburb during the time of the first Gulf War. Though shy by nature, Jasira seems wise beyond her years when it comes to exploring her burgeoning sexuality. Like many girls her age, she dreams of one day becoming a famous model like the ones she sees in fashion magazines or on billboards around town. Yet, despite the sternness and rigidity of her father, Jasira winds up getting involved with both a black boy at school and the middle-aged family man who lives two doors down.

With "Towelhead," writer/director Alan Ball returns to the theme of simmering suburban eroticism that he explored so effectively in "American Beauty" and "Six Feet Under." Indeed, it`s safe to say that "Towelhead" is possibly the most perceptive, frank and intelligent exploration of teenage sexuality I've ever seen on film. Somehow Ball has managed to take a subject that could easily have become exploitative and sensationalistic and turned into a moving and compassionate tale of flawed individuals who, despite the fact that they may mean well, often act in ways that cause serious harm to others. As is true of every teen, Jasira is naturally curious about her body and intrigued by that secret, forbidden world of pleasure to which only grownups seem somehow privy.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 4, 2009
Format: DVD
TOWELHEAD may have been the successful title of the novel by Alicia Erian on which this daring movie was based, but it seems that the title could have been altered to focus on the real issues writer/director Alan Ball addresses. The audience for a film based on variations of child abuse and racism and prejudice and dismembered parenting and the physical coming of age of our youth may be small, but for those who had the courage to view TOWELHEAD either in the theater release or on DVD, the rewards are plentiful.

13-year-old Jasira (Summer Bashil in an impressive debut) lives with her mother Gail (Maria Bello) and the live-in boyfriend Barry (Chris Messina) until an inappropriate physical advance results in Gail's denial and Jasira is sent to Texas to live with her Lebanese American Christian father Rifat (Peter Macdissi) just as Bush's preemptive Iraq War is opening. Transported to a strange world Jasira suffers the prejudices of her holier-than-thou father and in addition to school is forced to get a job babysitting - with the next-door son Zack (Chase Ellison) whose parents are redneck bigots Evelyn (Carrie Preston) and Travis Vuoso. At the Vuoso's home Jasira discovers Travis' girlie magazines shared by Zack, and Jasira's burgeoning sexuality emerges. Both at Zack's house and at school Jasira is treated as an outsider (she is half Arab half American) and endures verbal abuse from everyone - the only exception is a young African American student Thomas (Eugene Jones) who pays attention to her as a beautiful, physically mature young woman. Jasira's need to be loved and to belong leads her into situations that cross borders of proper behavior - both with Thomas and with the predator Travis.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lynchianworldview on February 6, 2009
Format: DVD
I can see how a movie like this can be polarizing (much like Terry Gilliam's Tideland which was similarly criticized for it's "child abuse") but it's a very sweet film, very emotional and effective. It's a story of a little girl who is so neglected by her parents that she reacts to the innapropriate advances of an older man because he is providing the perceived "positive" attention and affection that she is so desperately seeking. She is bullied by her parents/schoolmates and abused by her adult male neighbor. It is sad what happens to her but I found her character entirely relatable and beautiful.

So, much in the same way that the father in this film inadvertenly fails to protect his daughter by being simultaneously overprotective and absent, I am so annoyed with reviewers that criticize this film, not because they didn't like it, but because "it's sick" or "child porn" or some such nonsense. It's the parents who crusade the most against what "the children" can see that most need to be engaging their children in conversation to see what's happening in their children's lives and truly help them instead of trying to shelter them from real facts about life!

This should be required viewing for all 13 year old girls (and their parents).
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