Towelhead (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alan Ball
Produced by Ted Hope
Alan Ball
Screenplay by Alan Ball
Based on Towelhead
by Alicia Erian
Starring Aaron Eckhart
Toni Collette
Maria Bello
Peter Macdissi
Summer Bishil
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Newton Thomas Sigel
Edited by Andy Keir
Indian Paintbrush
This Is That
Your Face Goes Here Entertainment
Distributed by Warner Independent Pictures
Release date
Running time
124 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $675,662[1]

Towelhead (alternatively titled Nothing is Private) is a 2007 comedy-drama film written and directed by Alan Ball and based on Alicia Erian's novel of the same name. The film made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2007 under the name Nothing is Private. The film, like the book, touches on issues of sexual awakening, privacy, and race.


Set in 1990 amidst the Kuwait War of 1990-91, Towelhead tells the coming-of-age story of a 13-year-old Lebanese American girl named Jasira (Summer Bishil). She first lives with her mother in Syracuse, New York, but when her mother's live-in boyfriend helps Jasira shave her pubic hair, her mother sends Jasira to live with her old-fashioned and domineering Lebanese father Rifat (Peter Macdissi) in suburban Houston, Texas. Jasira is alienated from her father: he is strict, does not allow her to use tampons, and prefers spending time with his new girlfriend, Thena; yet she experiences a sexual awakening there, sparked in part by the adult magazines she finds when baby-sitting the next-door neighbor boy Zack Vuoso (Chase Ellison), son of Travis Vuoso (Aaron Eckhart). While Jasira is home alone one night, Mr. Vuoso comes over to retrieve one of his magazines and he ends up sexually assaulting her. She befriends a classmate, Thomas Bradley (Eugene Jones), eventually becoming sexually active with him. Mr. Vuoso becomes jealous of Jasira's relationship with Thomas and, pretending he has to go to Iraq the next morning, tricks Jasira into sleeping with him. When Rifat finds one of Mr. Vuoso's adult magazines at his house, he beats Jasira, and she seeks refuge at the home of Melina (Toni Collette) and her husband, Gil, neighbors that were aware of Mr. Vuoso's inappropriate behavior from the beginning. Eventually, Jasira reveals that she had sex with Mr. Vuoso, and he is arrested.


Critical reception[edit]

Towelhead received mixed reviews from critics; Rotten Tomatoes reports that 48% of critics have given the film a positive review, based on 114 reviews with an average rating of 5.3 out of 10 with the consensus that "This story of politics, race and sexual awakening has moments that pack a punch, but overall, Towelhead never quite achieves the nuance of helmer Alan Ball's television work."[2] The film also holds a score of 57 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 31 reviews.[3]


External links[edit]