4/10 I’ve found over the years that the most controversial films garner the most judgements before they have even been seen by the vast majority of the film going public. Such has been the case with “Cuties”, where the French movie has been called “child porn” and been met with tons of judgement and a trending #CancelNetflix Twitter hashtag. Not one to just take other peoples’ opinions as fact, I decided to give this movie a shot to judge its quality and content for myself. There are two levels to discuss this movie on; how good or bad it is just as a movie and secondly, if the content is pornographic and disgusting or if those reactions have been blown out of proportion. The reason this movie only gets a 4/10 is because it simply is not a good movie, solely based upon the movie itself. The biggest problem with “Cuties” is that in its brief run time, it tries to commentate on too many subjects but never long enough to say anything meaningful before it jumps to the next topic. The movie could have focused on one or two topics to address and nailed down what it wanted to say but instead, Maïmouna Doucouré’s script bounces from issue to issue before it has time to make a meaningful statement about anything. Defenders of this movie say that it commentates on how young girls growing up today on phones, tablets and social media see these rap music videos and Instagram likes and how the more skin you show off, the more popular you become and attention you attract. Yet the movie, despite showing this, has nothing to say about it. There is no critique of this aspect of today’s culture. It is shown but never addressed by anyone in the movie. Before a statement can be made about girls growing up today and the pressures they face from social media, the movie then jumps to its next topic; Eastern culture (strong Muslim beliefs and traditions) vs. Western culture (freedom of expression, feminism, etc.). An Eastern vs. Western cultural debate would have been fascinating to look at through this lens of young girls and dancing but the movie then quickly abandons that topic before it makes any relevant statements on it. This jumbled and unfocused direction really weakens the movie and destroys any attempt at what the movie set out to do. The plot becomes basic and with the characters of many of the girls in the main group being so mean and nasty, we don’t even care for the main group of girls who we are supposed to root for. I will say most of these girls are talented actresses and deliver strong performances, despite the fact that they are basically just playing 11-year-old girls, so not much of a stretch for them. The pacing works well and the dialogue does feel very realistic for girls that age. Many movies have adult screenwriters trying to write dialogue for children and failing spectacularly but here the dialogue is well written and feels genuine. As for the real controversy of this movie, we fall somewhere in the middle. No, this movie is absolutely not child porn and we thankfully do not see any nudity from these 11-year-old girls. Senator Ted Cruz calling for the Department of Justice to open an investigation into “Cuties” to see if any federal laws were broken regarding the production and distribution of child pornography is laughable virtue signaling if you take the hour and a half to watch the movie. That being said, this movie 100% sexualizes children and several scenes made me sick to my stomach to watch. The girls’ dance routines are extremely sexualized and the girls rub their bodies and grab their genitals as the camera lingers on their asses. Scenes also include the young girls trying to take a dick pic of a boy’s penis while he uses a urinal, one of the 11-year-old girls taking a picture of her vagina and putting it online and that same 11-year-old beginning to take off her clothes to seduce a much older boy so he will give her his phone. These scenes and moments are disturbing and troubling to watch and the real life parents of these actresses allowing their children to film these acts are truly disgusting. If the movie had a great message about how negatively social media can impact young girls and made this a PSA about it, you might be able to justify some of the acts in this movie but the message is very weak on that subject matter and you can get your point across without sexualizing children. I am sure pedophiles will love this movie due to these children being extremely sexualized. While the movie isn’t pornographic and therefore should not be banned or censored, you can’t really use the movie’s weak messaging to justify how sexually these children act in this movie. An already below average quality movie added to some really stomach churning moments of sexualized children makes this a movie that may not warrant canceling your Netflix over, but definitely warrants not watching this troubling movie.
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