Director: Mariana Rondón
Year of Production: 2013
Junior (Samuel Lange) is a nine-year-old boy growing up on a housing project in Venezuela with his recently widowed mother, Marta (Samantha Castillo), and his baby brother. Searching for an identity without a father figure, Junior starts to feel marginalised by his mother’s pre-occupation with his younger brother. When school term approaches and his yearbook photo is due to be taken, Junior decides to straighten his stubbornly curly hair. His grandmother recommends Junior spend time with her as they have a strong connection and share a love of music and singing. She introduces him to her favourite sixties crooner, Henry Stephen (“My Lemon, My Lemon Tree”) and suggests he might like to imitate his look for the school photo. As Junior’s fixation with his appearance grows, it soon puts him at odds with his mother. Overwhelmed with searching for a job to provide for her family, she finds it increasingly difficult to tolerate Junior’s personality and tries to induce him into ‘macho’ ways, convinced his obsessions are in fact signs of his undefined sexuality...
Winner of the prestigious Golden Shell at the San Sebastián Film Festival and numerous awards internationally, PELO MALO (“Bad Hair”) is a nuanced, wonderfully spirited and touching coming-of-age story from writer-director Mariana Rondón (“Postcards from Leningrad”), featuring exceptional lead performances by Samuel Lange and Samantha Castillo.
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"Powerful yet playful...An exceptional performance by Samantha Castillo"
"playful, perceptive and poignant, as well as highly entertaining."
"gem of a film, Critics’ Pick"
"superb coming-of-age tale"
"a beautifully realized coming of age tale…impressive"
"a real must-see"
"bold and intelligently perceptive…enthralling…provocative and gripping"
"distinctive and highly engaging"
"a poignant portrait of the relationship between a young Venezuelan boy and his single mother, which succeeds not just in sensitively portraying a difficult situation, but also in offering a thoughtful take on big issues like race, identity and sexuality."
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