Here I am finally paying attention to Alan Ball‘s Nothing Is Private, an allegedly high quality, sexually frank period drama (based on Alicia Erian‘s “Towelhead“) that sounds like it will definitely be pushing MPAA ratings boundaries. It’s basically about a 13 year-old half-Arab, half-Irish girl named Jasira (Summer Bishil, said to be super-phenomenal in the part) getting sexually involved with two older guys while living with her brusque-mannered Lebanese father in Houston in the early ’90s.

Summer Bishil, breakout star of Alan Ball’s Nothing Is Private

It costars Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Peter Macdissi, Toni Collette and Eugene Jones. The producer is Scott Rudin. I can’t find a mention of a distributor, but Rudin’s ties are with Disney/Miramax. There’s loose talk about this film possibly going to Cannes. but release-wise it looks like a fall entry.

All I have to go on is an early March Ain’t It Cool test-screening review by some dude named “Rocksalt.” I don’t know the guy, he could be a plant and nobody knows anything. But AICN editor Drew McWeeny didn’t seem all that suspicious. If “Rocksalt” isn’t a plant and Ball’s film is half as good as he describes, Nothing Is Private certainly sounds like Oscar material.

“Set during the first Gulf War, politics and racism — while present — take a backseat to the real meat of the story,” he writes, “which is Jasira’s relationship with the three men in her life: her abusive father (Peter Macdissi, a/k/a “Olivier” on Six Feet Under), her lecherous neighbor (Aaron Eckhart), and her horny boyfriend (newcomer Eugene Jones).

“But to simply call them ‘abusive,’ ‘lecherous’ and ‘horny’ does a disservice to them all: these are extraordinarily complex characters. As bad as they are, all have redeeming qualities. And in their own ways, all of them care very deeply for Jasira. It’s a very funny film as well… as dark as her situation is, there’s a lot of humor in it. It’s not nearly so oppressively dreary as the plot on paper sounds.”

The guy really goes nuts over Bushill….

“It’s early in the year for me to be making grand statements (something I’m not prone to doing in the first place) but Bushil’s performance isn’t just ‘good’ — heck, ‘m not sure ‘great’ does it justice. This is like going straight from high school to the major leagues and hitting a grand slam in your first at-bat.

“This isn’t like the occasional nomination you see for a kid (Haley Joel Osment, Abigail Breslin, etc). This is the performance of the year, male or female, and the one to beat come Oscar 2008. There are scenes of such raw, awkward, and subtle emotion on display here they simply boggle the mind.

“There may be naysayers who suggest that Ball is fetishizing her and is just as bad as the male characters in the film. Bishil is onscreen nearly the entire running time, at the center of every scene, lovingly photographed (and I might as well say it — she is astoundingly beautiful), but with a performance this good, you want to give it as much screen time as you can.”