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  • Writer's pictureCharisMaggie

Netflix Cuties had potential... BUT IT WAS A HOT MESS

By now, everyone might have heard about Netflix's recent controversial movie, "Cuties" and how it made international news. The uproar stemmed from Netflix's poor marketing of the movies as most of the critics initially came from those who didn't even watch the film.

Curiosity killed the cat, and so I decided to check the film out for myself.

In order to give a fair, unbiased and detailed review of the movie, I broke down my analyze into 3 parts and did a review on my Youtube channel. If you're not much of a reader, you can watch the full review here

For my readers, here is a summary of what I thought of the movie

Part 1- French cinema vs American cinema

France is given credit for being the first to present projected movies pictures to a paying audience which was done by the Lumière brothers.

American movies a bigger budget productions compared to French or other foreign films. We can see this evidently with all the elaborate effects used in American films.

The American film industry tends to remake French films instead of using subtitles because it was discovered that Americans do no like reading subtitles (but really, who does; don't think French audience likes this either). An example of this is the French film "Intouchables" which was remade to make the American version "The Upside" which featured famous comedian, Kevin Hart.

Part 2- Messages from the film

Normalize conversations between parents and their children, especially during big changes that are happening in the family. In the film, Amy was from a conservative, polygamous Muslim family and she later finds out that her dad is marrying a second wife. This makes Amy resent him because she saw the pain that it caused her mother who has to make arrangements in her house for his new bride. This resentment also makes her rebellious and to seek an escape, she finds it in the "free spirited" dance group.

We are in a new age of social media where pre-teens now have access to the internet and so more effort needs to be done to protect young minds from the suggestive messages on social media. In the case of the film, the group of girls who befriend Amy, are dancers who call themselves "Cuties". The watch explicit videos on the internet and copy them as they see that those are the kinds of content that gets the most likes.

Fun fact, did you know that the age for making a social media account is only 13? In the movie the girls are 11 but it is very easy to make an account these days and lie about your age as these social media platforms do not verify ages of its users.

Parents beware of the things you say to your kids. Phases like " you're good for nothing, you're useless" etc. Amy forms a bond with the leader of the dance group, Angelica, and in one scene she shares with Amy how her parents have said to her that she's a bad daughter to them and a failure. She then says "but people like me, right Amy? they like me a lot", referring to her social media lovers as she posts pictures and videos for them.

Part 3- How the director missed the mark and Netflix's role in this mess

All in all, the film had potential. I mean, it did win an award in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on 23 January, where Maïmouna Doucouré won the Directing Award. However, the inappropriate scenes which shows the 11 year old characters twerking, the camera angles and unnecessary zooming in and not to mention how lonnng some of the inappropriate scenes were, clouded the message the film was trying to portray.

The oldest actress is 14 years old and so a lot of the uproar had to do with the fact that the girls were exploited for the sake of a film and they weren't even old enough to watch it.

It is a theory that maybe the film would be better accepted if older girls (16+) who can pass for being younger were casted for the roles instead.

Maïmouna Doucouré has come forward and explained her intentions for the films.

Netflix did not produce the film but bought rights to it earlier this year. Since the release of the film by Netflix and public uproar of the public to #cancelnetflix,they have apologized to both the public and Doucouré for the poor way they marketed the film. According to her, she was not aware of the poster they intended to use when marketing the film. The film was originally marketed with a explicit poster which was later changed to a more appropriate poster.

Initially poster

(image has been cropped to avoid showing its full explicit nature but you get the point

Original poster used to enter the Sundance film festival

"Mignonnes" is the french name for the film.

Final thoughts

It is my hope that this is a lesson to all future creators that they must be responsible in the way they try and portray their message. Indeed, we have a space for freedom of expression and that in today's world, everything is being done to have "shock value" but it doesn't always work in the directors' favour, especially when it involves minors.

In preparation for this film, Doucouré mentioned that the idea was sparked after she observed a group of 11 year young girls dancing in this explicit manner during a neighbourhood gathering. She then decided to spend the next year and a half doing research by interviewing hundreds of pre-teens and how they felt about their feminity in today's society.

I'm not one to tell anyone how to do their work, BUT this movie could have easily been a documentary featuring the hundreds of these pre-teens instead of having hundreds of girls do twerk auditions.

Had it been done this way, I truly believe that the message would have more impact and would have been received positivity. Sadly, the message is buried and many people are not focusing on it.

I also hope that these actresses are doing ok as I can't imagine how they must feel that their first movie, is receiving so much backlash.

Oh, and Netflix, do better next time.


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