?Towelhead? comes too close for comfort

Briaune Knighton

You’re so beautiful Jasira,’ are the first words spoken in a film that not only covers self-beauty, but also the turbulent road that some people must walk in order to discover that beauty.

Written for the screen and directed by the Academy Award-winning writer of ‘American Beauty,’ Alan Ball, ‘Towelhead’ follows the life of Jasira, a 13-year-old Lebanese-American girl on the trail to discovering herself. After a misunderstanding with her mother, Jasira, played by actress Summer Bishil, is sent to live with her strict, Lebanese father in Houston, Texas.

In this unfamiliar town, Jasira travels down the path of a young woman that tries to figure out where sexuality comes into play. Flooded by sexual images in the media, from advertisement to pornographic magazines, Jasira ends up trying to identify herself with the women in these images. With a vivid imagination and a yearning for love and attention Jasira finds herself running into obstacles.

Due to the absence of her mother and the inability to connect with her father, who neglects her time and time again, she ends up seeking the attention of the men that she encounters. Her love for her boyfriend Thomas is the closest thing Jasira has to a normal relationship, but the connection still encounters problems after her father discovers that Thomas is Black and therefore disapproves of the relationship. ‘

With the help of a concerned neighbor, played by Aaron Eckart, Jasira is able to confront her many problems head-on and discovers self-empowerment and womanhood in doing so. ‘

Although ‘Towelhead’ is a well-done film, the excess of topics becomes overwhelming at times. From child abuse and molestation, war and army reserves, to racism and interracial dating, the film seems to find a way to incorporate all the aspects of adolescent life that this young woman could have faced in the society.

The screen is flooded with every scenario that could possibly go wrong within one person, all at once. Many’ scenes, however, portray well the way a young girl would view the obstacles she is facing. The situations Jasira encountered were very realistic and one can see how they all came about. There are points were you’ll laugh, cry and, at times, be in shock while watching this movie. ‘

Overall ‘Towelhead,’ based on the critically acclaimed novel by Alicia Erian, is a film that plays out as a very accurate portrayal of a young woman getting to know herself through her relationships, mistakes and interactions with the people around her and the role media plays in the way women view themselves.