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In a scuzzy Caracas apartment complex, a 9-year-old boy named Junior, like so many 9-year-old boys before him, is fighting with his mom about his hair. Junior wants to straighten it like a flamboyant pop star, and his stern, world-weary mother goes into homophobic shock, scrambling for ways to keep her son on the straight-and-narrow. Junior’s ethnic background is mentioned briefly—his mom is light-skinned, and we’re told his late father, a soldier, was black—but one of the more interesting questions raised by the film is left untouched: whether Junior might want to straighten his coarse, wiry locks to aspire to racially coded standards of beauty, not just gendered ones. His budding gay proclivities (or maybe gender dysphoria—the two are conflated in the film) are played with a heavy hand. He likes barrettes! He dances dreamily! He thinks the grocer boy has “amazing eyes!” It could read hackneyed in the hands of a lesser actor, but Samuel Lange Zambrano, the young boy in the role, makes Junior’s hesitant self-discovery feel earnest and brave. His face at the film’s end, a disarmingly quiet scene, kept my stomach in a knot for hours.