The title means ‘bad hair’, the chief bugbear for Venezuelan nine-year-old Junior (Samuel Lange Zambrano), who just wants to wear snazzy clothes, have glorious shiny locks and be a successful singer, rather than live out his life stuck in a brutal Caracas ghetto. Fair enough, you might think. But Junior’s struggling single mother Marta (Samantha Castillo) has other ideas, worried that her son’s outré tendencies will set him apart from his peers – and, more importantly, from her.
For her second feature, writer-director Mariana Rondón offers a striking new twist on mother-son relationships, a lopsided battle of wills in which neither side is unsympathetic, but only one has the power to end the hostilities.
Her film is bleak and at times disturbing, but possessed of a surprisingly light touch: there’s horror here, but it never feels like a simple catalogue of degradation. This is down in large part to the performances, which are naturalistic without ever being amateurish, and the subtle, careful script, which refuses to slide either into pathos or tragedy