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A nine-year-old boy’s preening obsession with straightening his hair elicits a tidal wave of homophobic panic in his hard-working mother, in this tender but clear-eyed coming-of-age tale from Venezuelan writer-director Mariana Rondón.
Junior (Samuel Lange) is a beautiful nine year-
old boy, with big brown eyes, a delicate
frame, and a head of luxurious dark
curls. But Junior aches to straighten those
curls, to acquire a whole new look befitting
his emerging fantasy image of himself as
a long-haired singer. As the opportunity
approaches to have his photo taken for
the new school year, that ache turns into a
Junior's mother, Marta (Samantha
Castillo), is barely hanging on. The father
of her children has died, she recently lost
her job as a security guard, and she now
struggles to put a few arepas on the table
for Junior and his baby brother. She loves
her kids, would endure almost anything
for them, but she cannot abide Junior's
preening and fussing over his appearance.
The boy's grandmother (Nelly Ramos),
however, encourages and nurtures his
behaviour; even though she knows why
he visits the same newsstand every morning —
the one tended by a handsome, slick
young man. Junior doesn't even know
yet what it means to be gay, but the very
notion prompts Marta to set out to "correct"
Junior's condition before it fully
The slippery nature of identity — how it forms in us, the ways it tells us how
we might want to look or who we desire —
is at the heart of this third feature
from Venezuelan writer-director Marina
Rondón. At times harsh but often tender,
Bad Hair exudes compassion for all
involved, even Marta, whose concerns
may be grounded in homophobic panic
but whose desperation is almost palpable.
This is a story of people doing what
they feel they have to, partly out of fear,
but also out of love.
- Mariana Rondón
- Mariana Rondón was born in
Barquisimeto, Venezuela. She studied
animation and video art in Paris
and cinema at Cuba's Escuela
Internacional de Cine y Televisión.
Her feature films include A la media
noche y media (99), co-directed
with Marité Ugás, Postcards From
Leningrad (07), and Bad Hair (13).