Wednesday, January 23, 2008

American Beauty Part 2

During festivals it's good to watch films which you know nothing about. Often you'll find something that you may not have watched if you knew the storyline or heard it from someone. Towelhead is one of those, so don't read on if you don't want to know more.

It's Alan Ball (above right), in the directors role this time. He wrote the screenplay for American Beauty, and he's taken that theme to the next level. Aaron Eckhart (below left) is the equivalent of Kevin Spacey and Summer Bishil (above left and right and below right), is in the Mena Suvari role.
This time however, there's a strong mixture of racism, underage sex, menstruation images and pedophilia to help challenge the morality of even the toughest of audiences. Summer is an up and coming 19 year old Hollywood actress who plays a very convincing 13 year old, ably directed by Alan Ball to get the right mixture of innocence and sexual awakening. Her father is Lebanese and has strict views on who his daughter should be seeing. Meantime, she's mixing with all the wrong people and she stumbles from one cringing moment to the next. The Sundance audience were very animated and laughed at the audacity of the script to take it's audiences to places never before seen on film.

This is a film that would never have worked without an extraodinarily talented cast. Toni Collette (above right), plays the morally balanced expectant mother who looks out for the new girl on the block, after seeing some worrying interactions in her neighbourhood. The film challenges the way we think about each of the circumstances she finds herself in and doesn't let up from the first scene in the film to the end. It's a tough film to watch but a very honest, carefully constructed, beautifully shot and wonderfully acted film based on the novel by Alicia Erian. I'm sure it will be talked about many times this year and is likely to do very well at the box office. Whether it will win an award in the heart of Mormon country remains to be seen.

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