Cuties: Review

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Image from Netflix

Director Maïmouna Doucouré’s Netflix Original “Cuties” was released on Aug. 19.

Even before its release on Aug. 19, Netflix Original “Cuties” sparked controversy. Directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, the film was criticized for its provocative scenes involving minors. Viewers everywhere were shocked by what they saw. Although described as a “coming of age story,” “Cuties” was a far cry from traditional themes like childish antics of mischief.  

The main character, Amy, played by Fathia Youssouf, a young immigrant from Senegal, lives in a poor Paris project with her mother, where she awaits the return of her father. While she has her doubts about her family’s dogmatic faith from the beginning, her beliefs fall apart completely as she watches the effect of her father taking a second wife on her mother. At school, Amy does not fit in, but, through a series of twists and turns she befriends a young dance group, the “Cuties.” The pre-teens begin to incorporate hyper-sexualized dance moves into their choreography, which Amy sees as a way to rebel against her family’s strict practices. 

The risque choreography was the spark that ignited an internet storm. Viewers were appalled at the 11-year-old girls twerking during certain suggestive scenes. Personally, I did not see what all the fuss was about. In this digital age, you can find dances just as, if not more, suggestive on certain platforms like Tik Tok and YouTube. 

The final event in a series of dance competitions is the same day that Amy’s father’s wedding is, but she remains determined to dance with her group. She sneaks out to dance, but after seeing the reactions of the judges as they watch her dance, she abandons the competition and goes home. 

Although the director intended to make a film about the balance between freedom of expression and religion, it doesn’t come off that way. The movie goes back and forth between grotesque sexualization and religion at its worst. In addition to several questionable scenes in the movie involving children, the movie is poorly acted. Most of the roles are played by child actors whose performances come off as awkward and untrained. 

In the last scene of the movie, Amy convinces her mother to allow her to skip her father’s second wedding. Instead of going back to dance with her group, Amy goes into the street to play jump rope with a group of girls. This is supposed to be symbolic of her striking balance between two polar opposites of what an adult/teenager should be like, and just being herself. 

Although the movie “Cuties” may have been executed poorly, its core values are still something I think we can all sympathize with. Initially, I found the movie’s moral something worth-while, however, the full hour and 36 minutes leading up to the finale is so painful, in my opinion, that they make the movie a complete waste of time.