Streaming On Netflix

Cuties, or Mignonnes, was supposed to be about the coming of age of an 11-year-old girl, Amy, from a Senegalese immigrant family in France. She, in writer-director Maïmouna Doucouré’s own words in an interview with Netflix, is

“(…) navigating between two models of femininity. One represents (sic) her mother’s traditional origins. And the other one is a group of young girls called cuties.” 

Wishing to call a spotlight on how young girls internalize the idea of success being accessible only through their sexualization, Doucouré instead birthed a horrifically exploitative movie, sexualizing 11-year-old girls for success and profit, the irony is immeasurable.

Can the movie be lauded as an awareness-raising exploration about the exploitation and sexualization of children, when directorial ineptitude does not even manage to convey this arguably simple idea without further exploiting and sexualizing actual eleven-year-old girls? Any good-faith, a viewer might have is immediately undercut by the multiple instances in which the camera stays on the girls’ shorts and crotches while they twerk and dance. The way they are filmed changes the whole perspective, but the way it was executed makes it absolutely unbearable and nauseating, even. The frame is hardly ever not filled with very young, underage girls costumed and dancing suggestively, or rather, made to dance suggestively.

Further, even if the intention was to depict (and dare we say, condemn) the hyper-sexualization of young girls in the age of social media, it is the girls who are shown as makers of their own fate and complicit in their exploitation. The fact that the movie managed to get made and passed every stage of production, to win an award at Sundance, and be released on Netflix is only proof of the fact that pedophiles are apparently still a target demographic. 

From an entertainment standpoint alone, the direction is lackluster, as are attempts at humor and engaging dialog. The narrative is disjointed, constantly giving the impression of one too many scenes lost on the cutting room floor. Don’t bother streaming Cuties, you won’t be able to watch much, anyway.