Here’s what Cuties, the debut feature from French-Senegalese filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré, is: the story of an 11-year-old named Amy (Fathia Youssouf) who’s stuck watching her family fall apart and is trying to find a place for herself in the world. Here’s what it is not: a salacious bit of pedo-bait designed to appeal to baser instincts rather than better angels. To be fair, Netflix — the company that purchased this slice-of-life drama at Sundance, where Doucouré won the Best Directing award in the fest’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition — did the work exactly zero favors by switching out the original French poster (kids romping down la rue after a shopping spree) for one featuring the underage cast in provocative poses and couture. Out of context, the girls’ outfits look questionably flashy and trashy; seen in context, as the costumes for a hip-hop dance troupe competing for a grand prize, you understand how they function in regards to a bigger-picture message that Doucouré is trying to get across. None of which stopped people from claiming that the movie is softcore porn (it isn’t), and that Netflix’s marketing scheme was an absolutely boneheaded, wrong-footed, self-defeating move (guilty as charged). Petitions were circulated,… Read full this story
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