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Cuties Is Just The Opposite Of What It’s Accused Of

Cuties(Netflix)

Starring  Fathia Youssouf as Amy,Médina El Aidi-Azouni as Angelica,Maïmouna Gueye as Mariam, Esther Gohourou as Coumba,Ilanah Cami-Goursolas as Jess,Myriam Hamma as Yasmine,Mbissine Therese Diop as the aunt

Directed   by Maïmouna Doucouré

Rating: *** ½

A  huge  , and as it turns out utterly  misguided, debate  has  sprung up around this  beautiful  sensitive  depiction of  an 11-year Senegalese black girl’s self-generated  growth from childhood to  maturity .

The film  has been accused of  ‘sexualizing’ children when in  fact  it does just  the opposite. By showing  the 11-year  old protagonist Amy(the wonderful  Fathia Youssouf) descend into premature adulthood  the  film actually  crosses the line in pursuit  of  very  uncomfortable questions  regarding  paedophilic  reality shows where  young children are exposed  to a rampant voyeurism by judges(who should  know better) giving  points  to girls for  pouting  and wriggling , thrusting and heaving imaginary bosoms.

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So  please don’t shoot the messenger.Please?

Director  Maïmouna Doucouré isn’t  training her camera on  young twerking  waistlines to titillate. It’s like  accusing Steven Spielberg of being an anti-Semitic for showing the horrors  of  concentration camps in Schindler’s List. That’s exactly what the  director of Cuties does. She wants  us to be shocked and disgusted  by the  acts  of  adulthood adapted by  girls who  should be playing with dolls.

 Instead  they become  the babydolls of  the Iphone generation, drooled  up  by  millions who watch them .  The director spares us none  of  the  cringe-worthy  horrors  of watching  our little heroine Amy transform into a pouty slut.

 The  film is  meant to make  us uncomfortable, and  it does.  At the same  time  Cuties is not only about stalking the voyeurs through the camera lens. There is infinite  warmth in  Amy’s  relationship with her  distressed mother.And Amy’s resigned repudiation of  religious rituals is humorous in a  very sad  kind of way.

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At  the same time  the film is way too stark for  squeamish viewers. The way Amy reacts to a  male adult in her home after he catches her with his phone, is  horrific in  its directness.The  narrative navigates  from the brutal to the tender, sometimes  in the same breath.

In one of the most harrowing  sequences Amy cries silently hidden under the  bed  while  her mother is  hit by wracking sobs after  hearing of her husband’s second wife

Set in downtown Paris, this Senegalese  film celebrates  pubescent  aspirations in  a non-judgmental utterly empathetic  manner. Watching Amy and her pre-teen friends  singing dancing  flirting and trying to be much more grown-up than they actually are, is  not always a  pleasant experience.

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All those who  are mistaking the  condemnation of  pre-teen sexualization  for the  porn-thing are  forgetting that you have to break eggs to make  an omelette. In order to show Amy prematurely  serenading sluttiness, that dangerous line between  sexualization and actualization has to be crossed. Cuties  crosses  it comfortably,  never losing sight of its moral goals.

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