Cuties is a forthcoming movie on Netflix which has attracted a great deal of controversy ever since the trailer appeared.
Amy (Fathia Youssouf Abdillahi) is a young 11-year-old Senegalese girl who we see going to prayer early on, but she gets an awakening from her neighbour, the same-aged Angelica (Medina El Aidi) dancing to music in the laundromat, and realises there’s more to life, although if one thing’s most contraversial about this early on, it’s that the latter girl gets her hair straight by actually ironing it! At least she soon realises that this is an incredibly unwise idea when she tries it herself…
Plot-wise, this isn’t exactly deep territory, as she sees Angelica about with all the other ‘cool kids’ and wants to be a part of their dance troupe, Cuties – or rather C.U.T.I.E.S – even though it’s not defined as to what that stands for. Either way, it’s a way to escape the drudgery of day-to-day life.
At first, they don’t want to know her, and give her a load of hassle, but you know it’ll all work out in the end, yet it doesn’t long because she chances across hair-ironer Angelica whilst she’s away from the other girls, and can begin to get to know her better.
Most likely, similar, this is the world of Instagram where all of da yoof are obsessed with likes, but their ultimate aim is to take part in a grand final of a dance competition.
Cuties sounds a bit similar in terms of controversy to the bizarre and recent Unreported World episode: Schoolgirl Pin-Ups where Japanese businessman have a bizarre life where their release from the daily grind is to watch 11-year-old girls sing, dance and then engage in party games backstage… and that’s not a euphemism, because it was on before the watershed. That episode was presented by Marcel Theroux – yes, brother of Louis Theroux. And now as I check that page at the time of this film’s release, the episode appears to have been removed from All 4.
Yes, there’s the sexualisation of young girls, including brief topless nudity, which is an incredibly weird and unsettling thing to put on film in this context. Yes, the girls who do that will be of age – since otherwise such a scene could not be included in a movie – but yep, unsettling. So, it’s difficult to know whether this is aimed at the age of the girls’ characters in the film or… the Jimmy Savile brigade.
Cuties is rather a mish-mash of a film because there are segments which act like a daft kids film, such as when Amy and Angelica are chatting and getting to know each other, but then there’s the more adult content. Early on, we see Amy watching a comparatively raunchy video of adult women dancing, but then when it comes to learning to dance, they’re all learning how to twerk.
If you have Netflix and are wondering whether your kids should see this if they’re under 15, you’ll need to make that decision for yourself. Around the first 1/3 of the film should give you an idea of whether or not you deem it suitable. Then again, the trailer will probably be enough as it shows the aforementioned twerking, which comes about in the second and third acts.
And in relation to Instagram, Amy even takes it upon hersaelf to post photos of her undercarriage online.
However, assessing Cuties as an actual film? If you removed the controversy from it, you’re left with a rather dull coming-of-age story with soap-opera-style plotting.
And, will they win the grand final of their competition? Well, you’ll have to watch the film to find out.
I’ve also made a vlog about this film, below, and all those clowns who are review-bombing it because… reasons… and since making the video, I saw #CancelNetflix was trending. Oh well, they’ll miss out on some awesome TV shows and films!
Check out the trailer below:
Running time: 95 minutes
Release date: September 9th 2020
Director: Maïmouna Doucouré
Screenplay: Maïmouna Doucouré
Music: Nicolas Nocchi (as Niko Noki)
Amy: Fathia Youssouf Abdillahi
Angelica: Medina El Aidi
Coumba: Esther Gohourou
Jess: Ilanah Cami-Goursolas
Yasmine: Myriam Hamma
Mariam: Maïmouna Gueye
The aunt: Mbissine Thérèse Diop
Ismaël: Demba Diaw
Samba: Mamadou Samaké
Walid C.: Bilel Chegrani
Sweety Swag dance troupe: Canelle Brival, Paloma, Evarista, Arasian
Angelica’s brother: Jean-Paul Castro
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.