Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Towelhead

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong disturbing sexual content and abuse involving a young teen, and for language
Profanity:Very strong language and racist epithets
Nudity/Sex:Very explicit sexual references and situations including abuse of a young teenager, pornography
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, smoking
Violence/Scariness:Child abuse, very disturbing themes and confrontations
Diversity Issues:Ethnic, racial, and gender diversity is a theme of the movie

Alicia Erian’s semi-autobiographical novel about a young girl coming of age has been brought to the screen by writer/director Alan Ball, whose “American Beauty” and “Six Feet Under” explored the darker side of sunny suburban streets. This is the story of Jasira, the daughter of divorced parents, an American mother and a Christian Lebanese immigrant father. When Jasira begins to go through puberty, her mother’s live-in boyfriend responds inappropriately. Jasira’s mother packs her off to go live with her father in a sterile Houston suburb. Jasira has to cope with a range of reactions to her changing body from the bratty boy next door she babysits, who calls her ugly names, to his father (Aaron Eckhart), who treats her both as seductress and prey, her father, who seems horrified and angry but spends most of his time with his girlfriend, and a classmate who wants to be her boyfriend.

Summer Bishil gives a lovely, nuanced performance as Jasira, showing us that she is not just a passive victim but someone who is intrigued by the sense of power she feels from the effect her womanhood has on people. She is drawn to the photos in her neighbor’s Hustler magazine not because she is gay but because she sees in them a strength and freedom that intrigues her and makes her want to explore for herself. It is good to see a young girl in a movie who is allowed to be complicated and have complicated relationships. At least this film respects the power Jasira has as a person and a young woman. It also raises the cultural and racial clashes more thoughtfully than most films. There’s a nice moment when a confused staffer from Jasira’s Texas high school can’t understand why this brown-skinned girl does not speak Spanish. But It is very hard to watch at times, and there are moments when you can’t help wondering if the act of filming and watching is not itself exploitative or abusive.

As we expect from Alan Ball, the performances are breathtaking in their courage and sensitivity, especially Peter Macdissi as Jasira’s father and Aaron Eckhart as the neighbor, whose status as a reservist about to be called to the Gulf War lends an individual and societal element of being on the brink of chaos. In smaller roles, Maria Bello as the narcissistic mother, Lynn Collins as the father’s warm-hearted girlfriend, and Toni Collette as a concerned neighbor with some experience in crossing cultural borders create characters who feel completely real within the context of a story that tries and often succeeds in transcending its particulars for a story about the personal and political struggle to come of age.



Previous Posts

Actors Of Color Discuss Racial Stereotypes In Hollywood
Film Courage produced this excellent and very compelling film with actors of color talking about the challenges they face in Hollywood. If we did a better job of representing diversity in film, we would not just tell better stories and tell stories better, we would make better progress toward under

posted 8:00:49am Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Annie
The story of the plucky little Depression-era orphan with the curly red hair has been not just re-booted but re-imagined into the world of rent-a-bikes, viral videos, DNA tests, YOLO, corpora

posted 5:59:13pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Fans of the first two "Night at the Museum" films will like this one because it is pretty much the same film. They go to another museum, this time the British Museum in London, and the exhibi

posted 5:23:46pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Listen to People's Lives: David Plotz's Working Podcast
Former Slate editor David Plotz, now at Atlas Obscura, says that he is a big fan of Studs Terkel's classic book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. He has paid tribute to that great work in the best possible way, by updating it with his podcast seri

posted 3:59:23pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Little Orphan Annie: From Comic Strip to Radio, Broadway, Television, and Two Movies
The spunky little girl with the curly red hair and a dog named Sandy began as Little Orphan Annie in 1924, created by Harold Gray.  Her pluck, self-sufficiency, and resilience cau

posted 8:00:48am Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.