5 Stars
Year Released: 2007
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 115 minutes
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Racism, teen sex, and war are all hot button issues. When you are a young person these things can seem new and confusing. In Alan Ball’s genius “Towelhead,” all of those above mentioned subjects go hand-in-hand in a truly wonderful cinematic experience.

Jasira (Summer Bishil) is a young Lebanese girl who struggles with her new found appreciation for sex. With no one to talk to about it and a strict father (Peter Macdissi), Jasira tries to figure things out, meeting a bigoted, Army Reservist (Aaron Eckhart) along the way. These great actors are joined by a phenomenal supporting cast including Maria Bello and Toni Collette.

For Alan Ball’s directorial debut, he does an astounding job. The script, which is an adaptation from Alicia Erian’s novel, is really well-written. The direction is top notch with well-executed acting to match, with the one person who particularly stands out amongst the rest has to be Peter Macdissi who plays Jasira’s over-protective father, Rifat. The guy literally steals every scene and sometimes he doesn’t even have to talk, he just needs to sit and look uncomfortable as he tries to figure out what his daughter is up to. I think it also helped that the actor was actually Lebanese and could bring some realism to his character, as I have met many older Lebanese people who are just like his character.

Never has a film given such great insight into the culture of Lebanese people. It is something that can seem absolutely weird to some people, yet the film presents it in a fair way and pulls no punches. Speaking of which, “Towelhead” has some of the most shocking and uncomfortable moments I have seen in film recently, yet none of the scenes are shocking for shocking sake. That is why this film is just so damn good, the questionable subject matter may get intense, yet the film is so entertaining it is hard to pull away. Ball is able to turn an uncomfortable scene into something humorous at the drop of the hat and that is just another reason why this film is so brilliant. I just can’t wait to see what he has to present in the future.

Being a teen sucks. Being a teen that is of another race can suck even more in a land as narrow-minded as this one. Yet this film does a good job of putting it all into perspective with a lot of heart.

Posted on September 13, 2008 in Reviews by

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