When we're little, the things we want so badly in our miniaturized here-and-now are often impossible for grown-ups to understand. That's certainly the case with the nine-year-old boy at the center of Venezuelan writer-director Mariana Rondón's Bad Hair: Junior (Samuel Lange), a kid growing up in a rough housing complex in Caracas, is convinced that his hair, a springy, dusky cloud, is standing in the way of everything he wants. He needs to get his photo taken for his school ID, and doing so requires money that his mother, Marta (Samantha Castillo), doesn't have. But lack of funds isn't even the biggest problem: Junior yearns to present himself in that photo as a suave pop singer with straight, silky hair. Drifting around within his fog of not-quite-articulated thoughts -- which may be the state of childhood in a nutshell -- is the idea that his mother will love him more if he has "good" hair.
As it is, Marta is struggling. She has lost her job as a security guard, and she lavishes what little time and energy she has on Junior's infant brother. But our sympathies remain squarely with Junior, as we watch him struggle to drag a comb through his glorious little mane -- it springs right back up, a cheerful affront to all his hard work. Rondón doesn't strain to spell out what Junior's leanings are, because they're beside the point: He's just a child trying to map out his future, romantic and otherwise, and taming his hair is a way of controlling the uncontrollable.