Advertisement

Film Festival Today

Founded by Jeremy Taylor

Film Review: CUTIES

Written by: Victoria Alexander | September 13th, 2020

Film Poster: CUTIES (French Version)
Film Poster: CUTIES (French Version)

In defense of Cuties, it is a cultural eye-opener. Stop trying to bully Netflix. No one is forcing you to watch.

I did some research regarding the area of Paris known as Little Africa, where CUTIES takes place. CUTIES focuses on a community of Muslim families originally from Senegal, a former French colony. France retains a tight grip on its former colonies: major French telecoms companies, banks and retail giants are ubiquitous in countries such as Senegal, and its political influence remains significant. As a result of that colonial history, French is the official language of Senegal. As of mid-2017, about 120,000 Senegalese lived in France, according to the United Nations estimates. France colonized Senegal in 1659 and French West Africa was a federation of eight colonial territories. Because of France’s colonial past and continuing influence in Senegal, special conditions allow Senegalese a preferred status to immigrate to France.

Maïmouna Doucouré’s feature debut centers around 11-year-old Amy (Fathia Youssouf). She lives with her mother Mariam (Maïmouna Gueye) and two younger brothers. They have just moved into a new apartment. A crisis occurs when Amy’s father announces that he will be returning to Paris with a second wife. Mariam has dutifully prepared a newly decorated master bedroom for the couple. Mariam is shamed about the second wife, but her tradition-bound relative, Aunty (Mbissine Thérèse Diop), insists on planning an elaborate wedding celebration inviting their Muslim community. Amy shares her mother’s grief about the new wife and hopes her father will not return.

For decades, polygamy was legal in France for immigrants arriving from any of about 50 countries where it is legally recognized. Historically, taking numerous wives was either a religious, social and economic necessity in poor countries with high death rates, or a sign of external wealth or male domination. France banned polygamy in 1993; however, the strong relationship between France and Senegal makes polygamy a very sensitive subject and it’s continued presence poses an economic burden on France’s generous social services programs.

While her mother must abide by the teachings of Islam on multiple wives and obeying one’s husband in all things, Amy is introduced to the cultural reality that exists outside her restrictive upbringing. She watches Angelica (Médina El Aidi-Azouni), also 11 years-old, dancing with hip hop abandon in the communal laundry room. Angelica is dressed in teen stripper clothes and throwing her long hair around while practicing seductive poses.

Film Image: CUTIES
Film Image: CUTIES

Is this writer-director Doucouré’s intent to sexualize children, garner controversy and promote child pornography or is it meant to  show how children are easily influenced and exposed to an excessive glut of highly sexual imagery? This sexual milieu is prevalent in every aspect of Western society and available in all media outlets. Without preaching from the pulpit, CUTIES forces the viewer to acknowledge some  responsibility. Everything is presented to suggest overt sexuality is a highly coveted commodity. Having “talent” is no longer a criteria for fame. In the past one had to find pop’s hidden Playboys or mom’s Harold Robbins books. Now, self-distributed sex tapes are the coin of the realm. Without good nude shots, how is a teenage girl going to get a date?

WAP, Cardi B

There’s some whores in this house,

There’s some whores in this house, 

There’s some whores in this house, 

There’s some whores in this house, 

There’s some whores in this house, 

There’s some whores in this house,

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, you fucking with some wet ass pussy
Bring a bucket and a mop for this wet ass pussy
Give me everything you got for this wet ass pussy

Beat it up, nigga, catch a charge
Extra large and extra hard
Put this pussy right in your face
Swipe your nose like a credit card
Hop on top, I wanna ride
I do a kegel while it’s inside
Spit in my mouth, look in my eyes
This pussy is wet, come take a dive
Tie me up like I’m surprised
Let’s role play, I wear a disguise

Songwriters: Austin J. Owens / Belcalis Almanzar / 

Frank Rodriguez / James III Foye / Jorden Thorpe / 

Megan J. Pete

Amy, an innocent child, sees how Angelica and her friends are respected at school. Angelica is the leader of her dance group, “The Cuties.” The girls,  Coumba (Esther Gohourou), Jess (Ilanah Cami-Goursolas) and Yasmine (Myriam Hamma), watch videos of female rappers and practice their suggestive dance moves.

As the new girl at school, Amy is bullied by The Cuties, but using her cousin’s (Mamadou Samake) cell phone that she stole, offers to record the girls practicing their routine for the big dance-off competition. With access to all social media, Amy now begins to copy the ultra-sexy, exaggerated booty-moves of the adult performers.  Amy begins to encourage the other girls to follow her lead and soon they are all twerking and sliding around the floor mimicking sexual positions. 

Yasmine gets into a fight at school and is thrown out of The Cuties. Since Amy secretly has been studying the routines, she begs to be part of the tryouts for the local, public dance contest.

Soon Amy realizes her conservative clothes are not appropriate for The Cuties or school. She alters a T-shirt into a cropped top and functional shorts become cutoffs. Like the sexy videos, suggestive clothing holds no stigma.

While her mother must accept the harsh role of an orthodox Muslim wife, Amy has been seduced by the overwhelming power of sexual exhibitionism.

CUTIES is an indictment of our cultural acceptance – actually, a valuable currency – of highly provocative influences all of us are constantly exposed to. 

After winning a place in the contest, Amy’s ambition versus her mother’s pending humiliation of the wedding collide. Amy has tasted freedom and makes some unwise, selfish choices. It is only the redeeming friendships and the joy of children laughing and playing together that anchors the film. And, to the director’s credit, no one sees any of the Cuties as sexual objects but as silly, little girls.

I pay $15.99 per month for Netflix. I watch international films and series. I watched a Turkish series about a surgeon who took Ayahuasca and it turned him into Istanbul’s Mr. Hyde. I watched the India matchmaker series. There is enough content on Netflix that I am not hoodwinked into watching CUTIES. I had a choice.

The “cancel culture” is a Big Brother ruse announcing that a petition has the power to make Netflix change its acquisition model. The need to make one’s voice heard has become the new fascism. If CUTIES is dangerous to the wholesome image of America, why is YouTube allowed to play Cardi B’s video for WAP? The lyrics (a few posted here) are outrageous and the video, which I liked a lot (except the absurd Jenner cameo), should also be added to the banned list.

Share

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/. Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com. For a complete list of Victoria Alexander's movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/victoria-alexander/movies. Victoria Alexander contributes to Films in Review (http://www.filmsinreview.com), Film Festival Today (http://filmfestivaltoday.com) and Las Vegas Informer (LVInformer.com).

Other posts by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*