Cuties 2020 Netflix Original Movie Review
Cuties are distributed by Netflix, it was not made by Netflix. Cuties are actually directed by French- Senegalese director Maïmouna Doucouré. I watched Cuties at Sundance earlier this year, so I had a different perspective when the whole controversy happened on twitter. But basically, people found out on twitter about the movie when the poster and synopsis were released on Netflix, and it just caused a lot of controversies. So the poster and the synopsis looked like this, and the synopsis read: "Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with the twerking dance crew. And, of course, with a poster and a synopsis like that, people were really outraged about it.
And there was a petition going around that had several hundreds of thousands of signatures trying to get the film to not be released on Netflix. And honestly, I'm not sure what my own personal reaction would have been, because I did see the film months prior. My perspective of the film was obviously different than what people saw on twitter. And so during a day or so, after this whole controversy happened, the director herself was receiving death threats to the point where she had to deactivate all of her social media. And eventually, the official Netflix Twitter account released an apology stating: "We're deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties. So now the film's poster and synopsis were changed, and it reads: "Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family traditions when she becomes fascinated with the free-spirited dance crew." So all of this controversy and trouble could have really been avoided if Netflix advertised the film correctly. And just for comparison's sake, I want to add the poster and the synopsis at Sundance because I feel like it's pretty similar to the alternative poster and synopsis that Netflix released. For Sundance, their synopsis states: "Amy, 11 years old, meets a group of dancers called 'Cuties'. And so, I'm someone that, when kids are put into "weird" situations, I speak out against it on like the small public platform that I have.
And so when this petition was going on, I definitely stopped to reflect, and maybe, I thought that "was I not seeing the film from the true perspective?" or maybe "was the Sundance type clouding my view of how the film should have been perceived? So, I feel like if you look at these two groups, people who actually went to Sundance and watched Cuties, and compared to people who were signing the petition, the overlap between the two groups is really slim to none. Which makes me come to the conclusion that a lot of people signing the petition have not seen the film because Cuties only premiered at Sundance.
The movie itself does deal with the hypersexualization of girls but from an 11-year-old girl. And Amy, in the film, is basically is navigating her new environment. She's trying to come into terms with her traditional Senegalese culture and also her religion, as well as trying to fit into the mainstream French culture. And for Amy she wants to be mature but doesn't know-how. And basically is emulating all of these dances and ways of dressing that she's not really super aware of how she will be perceived or how that affects her. Which I feel like the movie does explain that really well, in the fact that Amy and her friends do want to be mature, and because of that, they emulate styles that they see older girls behave like and dress like and that they get the attention and fame and like notoriety that they want. But, at the same time, they still are young girls that aren't really-- they're not really fully aware of the consequences of their actions.
And I feel like it's shown really well in the film. The amount of criticism that the director was receiving-- I really do find it "funny" that the director was basically branded as a pedophile when there are numerous, if not, just a large amount of actual pedophiles in the film industry who have their allegations known. They're public on their Wikipedia pages and they're still not held accountable for their actions, and they've been in the film industry for decades upon decades, and people basically ignore these allegations, just because they're well established in their respective career. As people are also aware, it's tough for women to enter the film industry, as well as even Black women or even women of color. So just to have these allegations and such negative reviews, at least from like the general public, behind her... I feel like it's just a real hindrance that Netflix really just-- honestly did the director so dirty! I don't know how else to phrase it, but it was just a horrible, bad take on Netflix's part. Like I said before, I watched the film at Sundance earlier this year, and before the film started, the director came out and basically explained that the film was representative of her own life. So, it does focus on Amy in the film trying to find a balance between her Senegalese culture and French culture, as well as being in a polygamous family and the conflicts that arise with that. As well, for a directorial debut, I really thought this was a job well done.
I feel like a lot of people can relate to the coming of age aspects, maybe not to the extent of which Amy goes through, but it does focus on finding your friend group, trying to find your identity, and just struggling with that as well. And also trying to navigate the world with your limited perspective of, you know, just being young and trying to figure things out on your own. So I really thought that all of the kid actors did such, such an amazing job. Kid actors can definitely make or break a film, and because these actors are in the film for a high majority of the film, they all did an amazing job.
Especially with their chemistry with each other and also how they were acting in the film were just incredible. I cannot praise the acting of Amy and Angelique enough because they just did an amazing job and their chemistry together was really, really nice to see. My actual ranking for when I first saw the film is staying the same. So I gave it three and a half. I still recommend watching it, though. But at times, I felt like the film did drag on a little bit. It's an hour and a half or so, but at times I felt like the film felt a bit longer than it needed to be, and some points of the film it did drag on. But when the film was really dramatic, it did really pick up, and it was really really interesting to watch.