Cuties premiered on 9th September 2020 on Netflix. Directed and written by debutant director Maïmouna Doucouré, the film stars Fathia Youssouf, Médina El Aidi-Azouni, Esther Gohourou, Ilanah Cami-Goursolas and Maïmouna Gueye.
According to Freud, when a human is born they develop their sexual organs first. During the ages of 3-7 years, there is the Oedipus Complex where the son feels sexually attracted towards their mother and during the age of 7-11 years, the latency period stays during which there is creative and cognitive development of a being. As soon as a person reaches the age of 11 they start getting their sexual urges and exploration wants back, as the genital development stage begins.
Now, I started with an explanation of basic human psychological development to delve deep into our controversial movie Cuties. The lead character of the film is Amy (Fathia Youssouf) who has found a new friends group (Who call themselves ‘Cuties’) in Angelica (Médina El Aidi-Azouni), Jess (Ilanah Cami-Goursolas), Yasmine (Myriam Hamma), and Coumba (Esther Gohourou). All these kids are 11 years old and the question (rightfully) is – was the movie sexualizing kids? Well, No. The representation of the concept might feel inappropriate due to the clothing and twerking sequences, but the whole idea still stands correct.
Cuties revolves around Amy as she is transitioning from childhood to adulthood, all the while exploring her sexuality and herself in a manner that’s honest but maybe not acceptable for a wider audience. Amy is a Senegalese immigrant who resides with her mother and two younger siblings in a small Parisian apartment, and soon after it is revealed that her father has taken a second wife. Later, she meets Angelica, one of the popular girls of her school, as she is energetically dancing in the laundry room and Amy is returning from a religious meet where they are told that women should be pure and pious.
Other than the whole idea of transitioning from one phase of life to another, the film brings forth the condition of women in society and how they are made to suffer at the hands of men time and again. Through a painful scene of the film, where we see Amy hiding under the bed as she could not unknot her crop top fast enough before her mother’s arrival, and she cannot help but eavesdrop on her mother and auntie’s conversation which depicts how much pain and agony her mother is in due to the second wife.
But still, every day, every moment she pretends to be fine. Being a woman, she can’t even leave the marriage no matter how heavy it weighs on her as she has kids and herself to take care of!
Despite Amy’s conservative upbringing, she is attracted to the group due to their confident, free, and outrageous approach towards everything. They want to be accepted, free, and famous. The raw spirit of pre-teen days and the growth aspects which have been reserved for boys to-date are brought on screen by Doucoure.
The internet world attracts Amy – the likes and comments interest her and she ends up taking some bad decisions. There is no exact sense of right or wrong in the film and therefore, at times, it might be a bit outrageous. But if explanation and meanings were to be added to everything, it would have been more of a parenting lesson than a relatable, adolescence story of gaining a sense of self.
Stream It or Skip It
STREAM IT! Other than the controversies that surrounded the film due to Netflix’s campaigning the film, it has a lot to say in fewer words. You need to have an open mind to understand that what they are showing isn’t something exactly offensive but basic human urges and psychology. Cuties is a search for one’s own self and a bit more (hyper-sexuality, mainly) of everything that sums that age up!
All in all, Cuties is a film worth watching and one controversy should not deter you from that!
Cuties is now streaming on Netflix.
Read our other reviews here.