THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS but I believe it's only fair that you know what you're getting into before viewing. Read at your own risk.
Towelhead (orginally titled Nothing Is Private) opens with 13 year old Jasira being coerced by her mother's boyfriend to let him to shave her p*bic area. She acquiesces. When her mother finds out she blames Jasira and promptly ships her off to live with her equally self-centered father.
On her first morning with her father he violently slaps her because she wears a T-shirt and boxer shorts at the breakfast table. Then, when Jasira gets her period her father refuses to let her use tampons, only maxipads, which causes a humiliating incident at school. When her father discovers, through a clogged toilet, that Jasira has disobeyed him he goes ballistic and refuses to address her blossoming womanhood. These scenes set the tone for the rest of the movie.
Jasira ges a regular babysitting job watching the 10 year old son of Army reservist neighbor Mr. Vuoso (played by the uber-hunky Aaron Eckhart. There should a law against being so damn sexy!). Jasira and her charge discover Vuoso's nudie magazine stash and soon afterward Jasira learns to pleasure herself to completion and does so at any given opportunity regardless of location (the source of several cringe inducing scenes).
When she is caught looking at the magazines by Mr. Vuoso, he develops an inappropriate interest in her which culminates with him taking her virginity by force. Meanwhile, Jasira is also being courted by Thomas, a black guy from school, who may actually like her but only wants to have sex with her.
Confused by her changing body and conflicting sexual desires and obssessed with becoming desirable like the nude women in the magazines, Jasira oscillates between being sexually abused by Mr. Vuoso (clueless to the fact she is being raped) and sexually active with Thomas (whom her father hates because he's black).
Then Jasira's pregnant neighbor Melina soon suspects what is going on between Jasira and Mr. Vuoso and becomes the only voice of reason and the only safe haven Jasira has in her sexually confusing and abusive world.
I didn't have a problem with Towelhead's subject matter. I believe films that tackle taboo subjects are important but need to be done well. Towelhead tries to create a darkly humorous universe like a Todd Solondz film (Welcome to the Dollhouse or Happiness comes to mind). However, it presents itself in a straight forward manner that lacks the dark humor to create a balance with the drama. It doesn't help that all of the characters are two dimensional caricatures.
Instead of awkwardly laughing, I felt uncomfortable and dirty throughout its entirety. I would have given Towelhead 4 stars had its subject matter been handled more delicately, offset with a healthy dose of dark humor. Nonetheless, it was an interesting film that entertained me and has stayed with me for days. Certianly not a film for "mainstream" audiences or conservative types and certianly not a humorous film to boot.