One line in Bad Hair, which had its U.S. premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York, has made me uncomfortable for days.

“I don’t love you,” Junior, the nine-year-old protagonist of Venezuelan director Mariana Rondón’s movie, tells his mother in the emotionally charged scene.

You would expect a mother to dismiss such a dramatic statement and rebuke her son for speaking such nonsense but all that Marta, Junior’s mother, says is: “Neither do I.”

There’s something excruciatingly painful in seeing a mother rejecting her child with such blunt words. And Rondón is skillful in showing Marta’s discomfort at her own behavior when she knows she should love Junior unconditionally, and yet she can’t.

Marta, an unemployed single mother with two children, is afraid that Junior might be a maricon – a disparaging word for gay – because of his obsession for straight long hair and his desire to become a singer.