This film takes him down a starker path than even his celebrated American Beauty, as a tale of Lolita-like lust, xenophobia, and racism are set in a banal Texan cul-de-sac. As the first Gulf War is about to rage, a Lebanese father is trying to control the behaviour of his daughter as she integrates into American society. Her black boyfriend doesn’t go over well in the mix, and the violent reaction by her father is only overshadowed by the fact that she’s being forced into a sexual relationship by the man next door for whom she babysits.
There’s nothing light or cheery about this film, and its starkness can be overwhelming. The performances are shattering, and even the good neighbours come across as much more than two dimensional “nice guys”. Given the timeline of the film, this can be seen as the dark flipside of The Big Lebowski – while the dude deals with his caper, out in Houston some nasty things are afoot.
Nothing is Private is far more raw and hard hitting than American Beauty, and will no doubt find a hard time finding an audience. It doesn’t quite all gel together, but it’s an ambitious film, certainly one bound to divide audiences and critics alike.