Netflix Review – Cuties (…a real tough watch)

An eleven-year-old girl navigating her way through strict religious upbringings’ and befriending a twerking multi-ethnic dance crew of junior mean girls followed by provocative repercussions is the basis of this French, Sundance film festival hit, now on Netflix.

Amy (Fathia Youssouf) has had a protected life of traditions that become disrupted personally after finding out the reason her father has been missing in action lately, is due to him taking another wife with the forced blessing of her mum, wife number one.

At her new school, Amy has few friends until she attempts a connection with a girl the same age who lives within the same apartment complex, Angelica (Medina El Aidi-Azouni) and her group of carefree mates whom Amy has spotted practicing dance moves.

Calling themselves ‘cuties’ they are keen to enter an upcoming talent contest, eventually accepting Amy into the group.

She has been secretly learning her own moves whilst attempting to dress similarly as her new friends by wearing her little bothers t-shirt which is crop-top size on her.

Building confidence through the bad influence of Angelica and cohorts, Amy swoops on an opportunity to take an unattended mobile phone using it to look at influencer style posts and eventually take her own selfies.

One in particular in the latter part of the film a dire, bombshell moment.

Keeping in mind, deep down these characters are just kids, circumstances projected are hard to watch at times.
Practically all of them are from fractured homes with lack of supervision a possible explanation for their often-abhorrent behaviour and sadly, social commentary through social media is a major image portrayal influence on these girls.

During a scene when confronted by a security guard after sneaking into a laser-tag establishment, their age to is used to advantage to defy authority, so this cross examines if knowledge of their actions towards others, whether true or not will get them their own way, even at such a young age.

They just want to be what they see online, mostly replicating scantily clad hip hoppers, however at one point we see the girls reacting to something adult orientated on screen obviously stimulating to them, thankfully we don’t see it directly. That is just one of a series of awkward scenes for viewers.

Volatile school dynamics and self-esteem pressures on minors are explored pouncing with a real sense of gritty reality through guerrilla style shaky-cam filmmaking alongside ala-natural performances by non-actors.
The plot overall is as much about race, religion, upbringing as it is consequences from kids growing up too quickly.

One of the toughest reviews I have ever written, I’ll politely decline to give a star rating on this occasion, decide yourself. Beware of a badly synchronised English dubbed version, a majority of dialogue I’m sure was lost in translation

Shane A. Bassett @Movie_Analyst

Drama | France, 2020 | 15 | Out Now | Netflix | Dir.Maïmouna Doucouré | Fathia Youssouf, Médina El Aidi-Azouni, Esther Gohourou