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Fred Gets Close to a Towelhead

Published September 11, 2008 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Warner Independent
Towelhead PosterTowelhead
Towelhead pushes social buttons right away with underage pube shaving and blaming a young girl for her sexuality. That's how you know this movie is telling it straight with no coddling for people's comfort zones.

Review: Towelhead


Lebanese-American teen Jasira (Summer Bishil) gets sent to live with her father (Peter Macdissi), right when she needs a woman's guidance the most. Puberty, lecherous neighbors and hypocritical guidance make growing up tough for her.

It's a pretty accurate portrayal of people delusional about their own righteousness and oblivious to their actual damage. The film doesn't judge them, nor does it apologize for them. They're just there, for us to deal with.

Dad is just a mess. The way he blames his daughter for things isn't even passive aggressive. It's too blatant to be that, but he clearly has no idea. In his mind, everyone else must have brought things on themselves. There's one moment where he seems to be redeemed. It lasts about 10 seconds because no, he's still f***ed up.



These characters are relentlessly unredeeming. Perhaps that is because this is not so much an ensemble where everyone gets their moments. It is Jasira's story and they are all antagonists to her. The hypocrisy is darkly comic because it is so blatant.

The one couple who are actual allies to Jasira do confront dad and that is satisfying. Hopefully, the film will confront some people as well.

The sexual elements are frank. Nobody gets to dodge reality, even the uncomfortable bad stuff.

The scenes give you just enough information. It shows you can do dialogue without blatant exposition.

The period is set without badgering it. A clip from Married with Children, a newspaper headline, one subplot involving the first Iraq war, a shot of the original Bush on the news and some musical selections are it. Really, spread about two hours of film, that's not overdoing it.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Warner Independent
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