Set mostly in suburban Houston, "Towelhead's" challenging drama is immersed in patriotic flagpoles, pink wallpaper, frilly pillows and stacks of porn mags.
The film debuts in limited release on Sept. 12. It is expected to arrive in metro Atlanta on Sept. 19. Here's what moviegoers will likely be talking about:
THE SEX. Thirteen-year-old Jasira (Summer Bishil) has dreams of frolicking with Playboy bunnies, discovers orgasms and remains constantly and innocently confused about moral choices, especially since nearly every adult around her is psychologically needy, emotionally challenged or an outright sexual predator. The sex in the film is rarely graphic, but it packs emotional wallops.
THE GIRL. Bishil is a 20-year-old, mixed-race actress who in October will co-star with Harrison Ford, Sean Penn and Ashley Judd in the immigration drama "Crossing Over."
THE CO-STARS. Maria Bello portrays Jasira's overtly needy mother (think Annette Bening in "American Beauty"). Aaron Eckhart is Jasira's predatory neighbor. Peter Macdissi ("Six Feet Under") is her father, who displays deep anger issues. Oscar nominee Toni Collette plays a pregnant neighbor and one of the film's few positive adult role models.
THE ABUSE. It comes in waves of hateful or controlling words, physical punishment (Jasira's father sometimes slaps her face or spits on her) and sexual abuse.
Coincidentally, the day "Towelhead" arrives in metro Atlanta also marks the expected debut of Dakota Fanning's "Hounddog," the controversial drama involving the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old Elvis Presley fan.