Movie Pick: Towelhead

by rania
September 13, 2008 1:16 AM
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Jasira (Summer Bishil) as a Lebanese-American in Texas

I recommend this film, not just because it's uproariously funny, but because it's the perfect collision of conservative values, over-sexualized popular culture, and raging teenage hormones. Wow, a smart and entertaining story about a 13-year-old girl, from her point of view.

Being of Arab heritage, Jasira endures schoolyard slurs and parenting that is out-of-step with her peers. She gets her first period, develops a crush on an older neighbor, and then gets "Polanskied" by him, in this sexual coming-of-age story. Though naive and confused, Jasira is self-determined-- even conscious of birth control-- as she explores her sexuality.

The acting in Alan Ball's film is so deadpan, it would be easy to mistake the humor as unintentional. Many critics found the film offensive and not funny at all. Is this because they watched it on a screener or in a small audience of critics? On Thursday, the full audience at the preview screening in Tribeca was howling from beginning to end, at the over-the-top, lacerating satire.

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