Cuties

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Cuties Movie Poster Image
Poignant drama is candid about tween sexuality; language.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 93 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 71 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Family, community, and peers are all fundamental guides for tweens and have the power to influence their behavior, both for better and worse. Popular images that are widely available online sexualize young girls, perhaps especially young girls of color, and can influence how they see themselves and behave. Acceptance and belonging are powerful motivators. Immigrant families try to maintain their traditions as they, and especially their kids, assimilate into a new culture. Friend groups can be diverse.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Amy and Angie have a supportive friendship despite being surrounded by culture of bullying and girls being mean to each other (a culture they both participate in at times). As she tries to fit in with a new friend group, Amy makes some inappropriate and potentially dangerous moves, crosses ethical lines by lying and stealing. Amy's mother relies on a very traditional "auntie" to help educate her daughter, even as she struggles with her own problems, namely her husband taking on a second wife. Her culture teaches her to obey her husband, but she does have the option of leaving him.

Violence

School administrators break up fights in the recess yard; one pushes middle schoolers toward her office. Before they become friends, the girl group bullies Amy, pushing her around, grabbing and emptying her backpack, making fun of how she looks. Amy gets in her own fight later, attacking another girl who gets Amy to the ground, pulls down her pants, and photographs her underwear to share on social media. Amy later pushes a girl into a river; it appears the girl doesn't know how to swim, but she manages to paddle to a buoy. A girl overhears a conversation about rape. Girls accuse a security guard of "groping" them, calling him a "pedophile" to get out of trouble.

Sex

Tween girls pose and dance in suggestive ways, mimicking dances they watch online. They dress in skimpy clothes and heels, though Amy has been told at a religious gathering that "evil" shows itself in "scantily clad women." Amy overhears other girls having a conversation about sex (and rape), which is explicit yet shows some serious misconceptions about specifics. The girls push Amy into the boys' bathroom to try to film a male classmate, and flirt with one boy online, offering to let him touch a "boob." Coumba finds what she thinks is a balloon on the ground in a park and blows it up, but it turns out to be a condom; the other girls are disgusted by her contact with it, try to wash her body and mouth off with soap. Amy starts to undress for a man when he realizes she stole his phone, presumably offering her body in exchange for the phone. To try to compensate for the embarrassment of having her underpants photographed and shared publicly, Amy posts a photo of her private parts on social media; a classmate calls her a "slut" because of it. Amy's friends get angry with her because other classmates later ask them to do the same. Amy's father is about to remarry and sets up a special honeymoon suite.

Language

Language includes "hell," "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "loser," "stupid," "bitches, "damn," "boobs," and "slut."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cuties is a controversial French film (with English subtitles in the United States) that takes on the difficult topic of how young girls are influenced by society's sexualizing of women in a way that teens can learn from. That said, the movie's unflinchingly candid treatment of its subject could turn off some viewers and leave others feeling sad or even anxious. The tween girl characters' suggestive dance moves are filmed up close, and they dress in skimpy clothes and talk about sex and rape -- albeit with some misconceptions that reveal their actual innocence, as does a scene where one girl plays with a condom from the ground in a park without knowing what it is. The lead character, Amy (Fathia Youssouf), will do just about anything to fit in. She's pushed into a boys' bathroom to try to film a classmate peeing, and her girlfriends flirt with boys online, offering to let one touch a "boob." To try to compensate for the embarrassment of having her underpants photographed and shared publicly after losing a fight, Amy posts a photo of her private parts on social media. Her friends tell her she went too far, and a classmate calls her a "slut." She starts to undress for a grown man, presumably in exchange for his phone, which he caught her stealing. The girls sometimes put themselves in potential danger, but the film ends on a cautiously optimistic note. It also offers a glimpse into the lives of Senegalese and other immigrant communities living in housing blocks in Paris. Language includes "hell," "s--t," "bulls--t," "loser," "stupid," "bitches," "f--k," "damn," "boobs," and "slut."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjmeyer3g September 12, 2020

Disgusted

FOUR STARS?! Come on, Common Sense. Justifying this trash is as bad as the film itself. Who are the adults- producers, directors, actors, parents of actors, pr... Continue reading
Adult Written byJMills3 September 12, 2020

No one should watch this!!

I am SHOCKED that anyone would think a 15 should watch this?! This is a soft porn movie that uses 11 year olds. This not only has a HUGE sexual content(with man... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byGCOC2003 September 10, 2020

Pedophilic content

This movie completely sexualizes young women, it tries to empower girls by letting them be women, and perform adult actions. It is a terrible movie in terms of... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byKor1776 September 11, 2020

Legal Pedo Porn

I rated this movie 18+ beacuse there isnt a Dead option.

What's the story?

CUTIES centers on Amy (a magnetic Fathia Youssouf), who comes from a traditional Senegalese family. She's just moved into a new apartment in Paris with her mom (Maïmouna Gueye) and two brothers. They're awaiting the arrival of Amy's father -- and, it turns out, his soon-to-be second wife. When Amy sees a neighbor girl her age, Angie (Médina El Aidi-Azouni), dancing suggestively in the apartment building laundry room, Amy is intrigued by how different Angie's life seems to be from her own. Amy starts spying on Angie's group of friends, which goes by the name "the Cuties," as they get in trouble at school and practice a sexy dance routine in an abandoned area after school. Amy and Angie become friends, and Amy slowly joins the group. She learns the girls' dance routine for an upcoming competition and adds new and even racier moves based on videos she finds online. Slowly, Amy begins adapting new manners and styles to fit in, all of which she tries out on social media. But it seems that the closer she gets with the girls, the farther she feels removed from her traditional upbringing and community. Her father's upcoming wedding and the dress he sent her for the occasion are symbolic reminders of how much things are changing in Amy's life. When Amy takes things a step too far, she finds herself on the outside of her family, her community, and her new friend group, and she'll have to figure out what her path forward will be.

Is it any good?

Senegalese-French director Maïmouna Doucouré has created an evocative, compassionate portrait of young girls finding their identity and values in this controversial film. In the hands of a less capable director, Cuties could easily have felt exploitative of its child actors, something the film was accused of in an initial (and controversial) marketing campaign in the United States. Doucouré films the girls close up as they move their bodies in a sensual way and strike suggestive poses in halter tops, short-shorts, and excessive makeup. But she offers these scenes precisely in order to shock, because they should be shocking. The public's reaction to the girls' final performance in the film reveals as much.

The subtlety is in the way Doucouré captures the young girls' innocence. Despite their poses, they're not exactly informed about sex. They regularly collapse into piles of giggles. Amy isn't truly trying to provoke; she just wants to fit in. That's where the context comes in: It's set in the multicultural Parisian exurbs, where Doucouré offers intriguing glimpses into the role of women in the Senegalese community. Amy is torn between the traditional values she's being taught at home and the draw of her new friends and culture. This feels both typical and an exceptionally perceptive portrayal of the plight of adolescence and the immigrant experience bundled into one. Some images will stick with you long after this film: Amy's symbolic wedding dress, her father's new bride shrouded in white, the girls' poses, and a beautiful closing scene of Amy bouncing back, literally, into her community and her childhood.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role of the internet and social media in Cuties. Without these, do you think the girls would have the same ideas about sexuality or the same impulses to share intimate photos of themselves? Why, or why not? What are the dangers of sexting?

  • Have you ever done something you knew was wrong to fit in? How did you feel about it afterward?

  • How does the movie's Parisian setting compare to your own home, neighborhood, and school? Did you learn something about Senegalese culture from this film?

  • Do these characters feel authentic to you?

  • Do you enjoy watching movies made in other countries? Where can you find more?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age tales

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate