Welcome to TriBeCa Film Festival, where you may just see something amazing before anyone else. I had a weird pass that had blackout hours, so my film options were not only limited by that aspect, but also by the fact that I could only really manage two days of movie going. Having to travel from theatre to theatre lead to even fewer options than I had hoped for. Bad Hair was nowhere on my radar. I judged it by its title, but when it came down to the wire, and I had to pick one last film, it seemed the most interesting.
A nine-year-old boy becomes obsessed with his curly black hair, and wants to straighten it. His mother sees this as a sign of homosexuality, and does everything she can to make sure her son doesn’t become gay. This is a Spanish film from Venezuela, and if one takes the time to do some research on that specific area, one may find that there are a lot of hate crimes towards homosexuals. I would love to say that this film is amazing, that it speaks volumes of a mother’s love for a son, but unfortunately I cannot.
As Bad Hair progressed, I felt that Junior (Played by Samuel Lange Zambrano) was most definitely going to come out of the closet to his mother. There are so many signs, from his crazy dancing to the way he stares at a boy at the store. At one point his mother questions him about the kid at the store, and she becomes upset when he says, “he has amazing eyes”. It’s a weird moment for the film because this could be him coming out to his mother, but in all honesty, and the point of the film, is that he’s just being an honest child. He’s naive and innocent, and his world isn’t as cruel as the one his mother foresees for him.
Samantha Castillo plays Marta, the mother, with a cold hostility that instantly makes her unlikable. There are only a few telling signs of her actual heart, which is a shame because if Bad Hair better covered that aspect than the hatred she has oozing out of her every pore, this would have been a much better film. I don’t want to ruin anything because this film is all about its journey, but the entire third act of the film is disgusting on many levels, and the final few minutes just left me feeling hatred for the writer and director. I sadly didn’t have time to sit around for the Q & A session as I had to make it to my next film, but I would have loved to hear why some choices were made.
Bad Hair is competently shot, and has a brisk 90-minute runtime. My only real non-plot related problem comes from the film’s subtitles, which were very poorly done, and often blurry or grainy. This film isn’t going to be for everyone. With some retooling it could have been great, but it isn’t, which is upsetting because the message here is strong; it is just mishandled by clumsy hands. I can’t really recommend checking out Bad Hair, and I don’t see it going much further than the Film Festival circuit.