Towelhead

Metascore
57

Mixed or average reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 31
  2. Negative: 4 out of 31
Watch On
  1. The film is superbly acted (especially by Macdissi, who makes the father a borderline hysteric), but it's hard to know what to feel except, "How can any girl navigate this oversexualized culture?"
  2. 60
    This third-act redemption raises Towelhead several notches, but it still ends up feeling like a well-acted and well-intentioned after-school special, a long way from the vividness and texture of Ball's television work.
  3. A crude but scathing portrait of suburban life.
  4. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    55
    The performances are nicely calibrated, even when the director isn't meshing them into a persuasive whole. Summer Bishil makes Jasira an appealing naif -- smart, precocious and curious, if too easily led by hormones.
  5. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    50
    Towelhead is transgressive without being effectively subversive, gutsy to no particular end. It simply lacks style, which counts for so much in this sort of thing.
  6. 50
    From its title on down, Towelhead alarms and manipulates, and succeeds in goading the audience like a schoolyard bully, but apart from Bishil's harrowing attempts to find herself, the strings stay too visible.
  7. Reviewed by: Gary Goldstein
    50
    On the upside, newcomer Summer Bishil turns in a gutsy, quietly riveting performance as Jasira.
  8. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    50
    The potency of the acting is also undercut by leaden pacing and a sense of claustrophobia.
  9. What he (Ball) intends as knife-edge realism instead comes across as another con job.
  10. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    50
    The 19-year-old actress Summer Bishil captures the terrifying combination of lubricity and innocence that is being 13. Her performance is the truest thing in a movie that, for all its good intentions, feels thoroughly phony and mildly embarrassing.
  11. Ball's snide humor and cynical arrogance undercut his message at every turn.
  12. 50
    As a director Ball amplifies the flaws in his own writing; his supporting characters are too broadly pitched to take seriously, and he tends to smack you in the face with the point of every scene.
  13. As a first-time feature director, though, he (Ball) seldom lets the material speak for itself. Every shot is a statement, every scene sells an attitude.
User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 21 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 13
  2. Negative: 3 out of 13
  1. JenniferK
    Jan 6, 2010
    9
    Funny, sad, disgusting, rivetting, nauseating, feel-good movie- Summer Bashil is definitely the star of the movie- One of the best movies I Funny, sad, disgusting, rivetting, nauseating, feel-good movie- Summer Bashil is definitely the star of the movie- One of the best movies I have seen in a long time- at times I didn't know wheter to vomit, cry shout or laugh- some consider this movie to be an unrealistic after school special on the dangers of inappropriate touching, for me the movie seemed very real-to-life. Full Review »
  2. Dale
    Aug 12, 2009
    4
    The film is artless, harsh, an stripped of any mystery. The performances are good, and Summer Bishi is highly promising. I'm glad I saw The film is artless, harsh, an stripped of any mystery. The performances are good, and Summer Bishi is highly promising. I'm glad I saw it just to see her fine work. Full Review »
  3. JH
    Feb 3, 2009
    9
    This is an important and entertaining movie that involves some very unsettling issues. Although the main character has a Middle Eastern This is an important and entertaining movie that involves some very unsettling issues. Although the main character has a Middle Eastern background, that particular fact is not the crux of the matter. This movie is really about teenage sexuality, and it is certain to disturb almost everyone to some degree. All you have to do is look at the negative reviews to see how much some people were offended. Despite all that, this is a very good movie that should be viewed and seriously contemplated. I encourage you to watch it, and before you judge harshly, think back to your own adolescence and ask yourself, "is this movie an accurate and authentic depiction of teenage sexuality?" I think Alan Ball is courageous for making this movie, and I think that it is authentic to a degree that will make most religious people hopping mad. Full Review »