Pelo Malo - 'well-intentioned and convincingly acted but doesn't tell us anything new'
Drama. Starring Samantha Castillo, Samuel Zambrano, Nelly Ramos. Directed by Mariana Rondon. Exclusively at the IFI
Set in the slums of Caracas, Maria Rondon's documentary-style feature looks at the struggles of a young widowed mother, Marta (Samantha Castillo), trying to make ends meet as she strives for a job as a security guard while at the same time bringing up her young son Junior (Samuel Zambrano).
As if her economic circumstances weren't difficult enough, she also has to come to terms with the fact that Junior is obsessed with having his hair straightened, leading her to fear that he's gay, which wouldn't exactly make life any easier in the macho culture of urban Venezuela.
Well-intentioned and convincingly acted, especially by the newcomer Zambrano, Pelo Malo is a welcome addition to world cinema, even if it ultimately runs out of steam and doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know about the hardships of life in the less-privileged margins of society.