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Movie Preview: Towelhead


Towelhead (which also goes by the title Nothing Is Private) was one of the movies on my to-see list at Sundance that kept getting edged down by other movies, partially because of other priorities, though I also worried that it would be really disturbing. Now the film, based on the novel by Alicia Erian, has a theatrical release date of August 8 and a trailer that has only made me more uneasy about watching the movie — though also more curious, too.

The story is of the coming-of-age variety, though this one features a 13-year-old girl (Summer Bishil) whose Caucasian mother (Maria Bello) sends her to live with her Lebanese father (Peter Macdissi) in a small suburban town. She begins to explore her awakening sexuality, spending time with a boy from school (Eugene Jones III) and befriending a neighbor (Aaron Eckhart) whose intentions are far from pure. Her home life with a strict and sometimes abusive father only further drives her curiosity about her identity, her sexuality, her place in the world.

Alan Ball, creator of Six Feet Under, tries his hand at directing with the movie, and it seems to bear his signature marks of examining the darkest corners of the human soul while offering glimmers of humor and redemption. I'm both interested in and slightly afraid of this film. To check out the trailer,

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Linda-McP Linda-McP 9 years
The plot synopsis on IMDB certainly suggests that the movie is dark and the father abusive and that no one is wholly good or bad. I'm anxious to learn more about this one.
nancita nancita 9 years
Interesting, Buzz, because the movie certainly isn't being marketed that way. But then again, pedophilia in previews probably doesn't help sell movies. Maybe it is more of a dark comedy and it works in that context. The line where the woman says "Your parents don't speak Spanish at home?" is hilarious.
Entertainment Entertainment 9 years
brittanybe — My sense of it being disturbing has also been informed by reviews I've read of the movie and things I've heard about the book on which it's based. The pedophilia storyline with Eckhart's character already disturbs me. And the abusive aspect is something I learned from the movie's plot description as well as reviews like this one in which the father is described as "a fierce traditionalist who slaps his daughter to the ground for wearing skimpy clothes, and then tries to recover by telling her 'I forgive you.'" This same review mentions that "the film could very easily garner an NC-17, since much of it revolves around a pedophile's obsession and an underage girl's active sex life." Then again, it's possible that the movie has been re-edited for a mainstream release.
jasmint jasmint 9 years
I don't know how this is the first I've heard of this! The tone is pretty hard to decipher from the trailer, so I'm really interested in seeing it for myself.
brittanybe brittanybe 9 years
That did not look nearly as dark as you had me prepared for, buzz! It didn't hint at all toward dad's abusiveness; the tampon line was cute and funny. To me the most disturbing parts were Aaron Eckhart telling her she knows what she does to men, and her mom telling her it was "all your fault". I think it's very, very good to address the fact that women are blamed for sexual violence (or explotation or whatever the case may be) that are inflicted on them. It reminds me of that line in Time Traveler's Wife, "that's like torturing a kitten for biting your hand".
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