With all the hullaballoo about this movie, 90% of it from people who are condemning it without having seen it and who are simply repeating what someone else said (who likely didn’t see it, either) I decided to watch it.
I’ll start with a summary:
The movie is 90 minutes long; 30 minutes in, I was bored, although it did pick up a bit. It takes place in a city in France, and it’s about a young girl, age 11, who has recently moved from Senegal with her family. She becomes fascinated with a group of girls at her school, also age 11, who call their dance group The Cuties. They don’t seem like very nice kids, probably kids I wouldn’t want mine to hang out with, but Amy, our main girl, becomes closest with Angelica. At one point, Angelica tells Amy that her parents are hardly ever around, pay little attention to her, and often refer to her as a failure. Amy is dealing with her father taking a second wife and her mother’s depression over it.
Note: four of the five main actresses are 14 years old; one of them is 12.
Amy swipes a phone from who I believe is her cousin, and uses it to watch dance videos and learn how to move—and she’s not watching other 11-year-olds, but older girls and adult women. Since she has the phone, the other girls urge her to follow a cute guy into the bathroom and take a picture. Amy clearly doesn’t want to, but she wants to be accepted. The movie shows nothing, and the picture only shows Amy’s finger mostly over the lens and the bathroom floor.
Amy becomes a part of The Cuties, and they’re preparing for a dance competition. There’s a group of older girls whose video they watch—at one point, one of those older girls raises her shirt for a very brief second. That is the only nudity shown in the entire movie, and if you weren’t paying close attention you’d have missed it. It’s only shown on a tiny phone screen while the girls are watching the video.
Amy has not only learned the dance that The Cuties do, but she teaches them some new things she’s learned from those videos. The very short dance scene does show some questionable moves for kids—you know, the ones that any kids can watch, and probably do, online.
At one point, the girls are in the park and a group of teenage boys approach and ask how old they are. Amy says “eleven” and the other girls say “fourteen.” The boys heard that “eleven” and take off. Another time, the girls walk into a laser tag place and are just messing around, pretending to shoot each other with finger guns—I dare say that are some who are pitching a fit over this. They get busted by two employees and threaten to call the girls’ parents and the police. Amy starts dancing provocatively; yes, one guy is kind of staring, but the other one grabs him, says, “What’s wrong with you?” and yells at the girls to stop immediately.
Having learned that guys like to see skimpily dressed girls, when her cousin confronts her about his phone, she takes off her hoodie—she’s wearing a crop top—and starts to undo her shorts. He immediately asks her what she’s doing and yells at her, then tries to get his phone back. She runs into the bathroom with it, takes a picture of herself with her pants down and posts it online. Nothing is shown.
Meanwhile, her friends are horrified at that picture and the comments, and the girls all ditch her, temporarily. A boy in her class smacks her on the butt and calls her a slut because of that picture, so she stabs him in the hand with a compass.
Her mother raises holy hell when she finds out about all this. She and Grandma perform some sort of ritual with water, at which point Amy starts shaking and shimmying. Then they called in an exorcist, who said there was no evil spirit.
On the day of the wedding, Amy comes to the competition. One of the girls hasn’t shown up—because Amy shoved her into a canal on the way; our girl does have a temper—so The Cuties relent and allow Amy to dance with them.
The dance competition starts with, well, dancing. As the girls’ number progresses, however, the judges begin to look concerned, the audience is flabbergasted—and not in a good way—and at least one mother covers her daughter’s eyes. Yes, it was highly sexualized and completely inappropriate.
Amy realizes, near the end, that this is not who she is, not what her family expects, and she begins to cry and runs from the stage. The movie ends with Amy jumping rope with all the kids who attended her father’s wedding, happy and much more childlike.
So. This movie is absolutely no worse than any of today’s music videos that anyone can access—say, for instance, during a Super Bowl halftime show. And there are many, many things online, on TV, and in the movies, that you wouldn’t want your kids to see or hear; many things you don’t want them doing or learning or listening to.
They shouldn’t, but I bet they do. Even if your children are perfect.
Back in my day, kids didn’t reach this particular maturity level until probably 14 or 15; a generation, or even a half-generation before that, maybe 16-17. We tend to think of kids as being, well, kids, until they are at least 15—heck, some people refer to anyone under the age of 18 as a “child” and not even as a “teenager.” Some folks still call their adult children, in their 20s, “kidults.” Which, sorry if you do, is stupid.
I think what gripes me most about all the complaints is that they seem to come from people who haven’t seen the movie and merely repeat what others have said—and some of those people haven’t seen the movie either.
And I see way too many Christians who do this and, not having first-hand knowledge, condemn something and convict those involved. I believe that falls under “false witness.”
Many folks seemed to be carrying on about how this movie starred children, “not even older teens,” as if that somehow made a difference. At one point in the movie, Amy’s grandmother says she’s “a woman now” and that at her age, she was engaged and married shortly thereafter.
Kids emulate their elders, whether those elders are a few years ahead of them or ten years older. Eleven-year-olds are certainly capable of entering adolescence and being curious about sexuality. Most, I daresay, don’t choose this type of dancing to satisfy their turbulent emotions, but many do, whether or not people want to admit it.
Yes, the dancing was horrendous for young girls to engage in; yes, there were some questionable camera angles during some of it. Maybe three minutes out of the entire hour and a half.
The basic premise was NOT “come hither, pedophiles,” as pedophiles can get their jollies pretty much anywhere. The story was about a young girl who was starting over and made friends with some questionable kids, totally rebelled against her family and her culture, and in the end realizes that she is, indeed, a child.
But it’s a movie. Not glorifying anything. Has no one bashing this movie ever seen Blue Lagoon or Pretty Baby?
I enjoyed your review of this movie. Actually, I think you “nailed it” on several levels. Now, I’m off to watch the movie—if I can find it.