Netflix film 'Cuties' is darker than you thought

'Cuties'/Netflix

Plague. Recession. Riots. Looting. Fires. Murder Hornets. And now, as we round the third base toward the home stretch, 2020 gives us Cuties, a delightful French coming-of-age film by Maïmouna Doucouré that's half Stand by Me and half Coyote Ugly – if you were to combine both films into an anthropomorphic entity and then forcefully dip its toe into the perilous waters of pedophilia.

Cuties begins by showing us an 11-year-old Senegalese girl named Amy, whose fundamentalist Muslim family has recently moved to France. We learn that Amy's father has gone back to Senegal to bring home the woman who is to become his second wife. The mother's struggle is very clear to Amy, who begins right then and there to develop a hatred for her father. She starts looking for ways to rebel, and soon lands in the company of a group of ne'er-do-well girls, who fancy themselves dancers and have adopted the group name "Cuties". Their primary goal in life at the moment – and the thing that drives the film's narrative – is to participate in and win the big dance competition coming up soon. The ring-leader – a dark-haired bespectacled girl who resembles Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to such an eerie extent that it can't have been on accident – lives in Amy's building, and the two form a kind of delicate friendship throughout the film.

Here is where the movie most resembles a female version of Stand by Me, and it's also where I began to understand that this is a remarkably beautiful film at times. It's well-shot, well-scored, and well-acted. In fact, Fathia Youssouf Abdillahi (the actress who portrays Amy) is quite possibly the most talented child actor I've ever seen.

I began to understand that this is a remarkably beautiful film at times.

The portrayal of this group of girls wending their way through the thick tangles of childhood and constantly grasping at what they perceive to be higher concepts of adulthood is somehow both charming and bothersome at the same time. Knowing virtually nothing of the real world of sexuality, they engage in a kind of whimsical speculation as to how sex works that almost comically mirrors the aforementioned Oscar-winning film (and a ton of other coming-of-age movies as well). Some of this is fine. There's a particularly funny-turns-emotional moment when one of the girls, upon finding a used condom lying around in the woods, blows it up like a balloon and begins playing around with it. The other girls – who at least know enough to know that one doesn't touch such things for fear of disease – immediately recoil from her, tell her that she's going to catch AIDS, and so embarrass and frighten her that she begins to cry. The scene is, again, beautifully shot, and I found myself sympathizing with the character as she feels an overwhelming moment of ostracization-through-misadventure. In the following scene, we are treated to a montage of the girls washing her mouth out with soap, and it breaks the tension.

All of that to say that not only does this movie have plenty of redeemable moments that are on the beat film-wise, but also that it will pull you in headlong whether you want it to or not – which is what a good film is supposed to do.

But, alas, there's more. And I'm not so much talking about the risqué dancing that's done throughout the film. Here's why: as if the plot structure of every coming-of-age story didn't lay it out clearly enough for us, kids strive to be adults. The results are often hilarious, sometimes disturbing, but it's their nature. Kids want to be more like adults. And in a world – such as the one depicted in this movie – where children either can't or won't seize on the example of adulthood provided by their own parents, a vacuum is created. And nothing fills the vacuum of responsible parenting better than social media.

For the girls, it is the well from which they draw their inspiration, acceptance and love. "Likes" are the currency of the realm, and if you don't think this is true in your own kids' world today, you need to wake up and smell the Zuckerberg.

Thus, it is no surprise that these young dancing girls are modeling their very existence after what they see in online videos, and regurgitating the same back at the soulless machine. That they would be twerking and gyrating in a manner that falsely suggests they do know a thing or two about sex is normal when you consider that they're dining daily on visual and musical junk food – art perhaps not entirely without merit, but certainly without taste. And if there's one thing about the movie that phone-it-in parents might do well to see, it is perhaps the juxtaposition of budding childhood and the laissez faire morality adhered to by the demigods of popular culture. In short: these girls are just trying to be like the only set of role models afforded to them.

Here's what should (in my opinion, anyway) not be okay, though.

Aside from the moments of dancing, this film is filled with the cinematography of sexuality. When you watch any film in which there is a femme fatale character (or in some cases several of them), the way in which they are shot by the camera is extremely suggestive of overt sexuality. To quote one of my favorite online film critics: "You may not have noticed, but your brain did." Tracking shots over women's bodies, particularly up their backside or across a heaving bosom all decorated in cleavage, are a stock in trade for many filmmakers (and the only one for some of them). It's so common in the making of movies that it's often lampooned as a trope.

I'm reticent to accuse the woman who made this film of directly catering to the desires of pedophiles – but... I can't completely dismiss the idea, either.

We'll save the discussion about whether or not this is offensive when actresses in their twenties and thirties do it for another time. What I would hope we could all agree on is that you don't – in good conscience – use those same tracking shots over the bodies of a group of 11-year-old girls, even to make a point. And you certainly don't do it over and over and over throughout the course of a movie. The unstated purpose of such shots in a regular film is to give the viewer a taste of the voyeur. You wouldn't be allowed, in polite society, to walk up to a woman and stare at her from inches away, scanning down her body as if you were about to fax her someplace. But with the movie camera, you get a little taste of that. Dopamine rushes to your brain, and you're instantly glad you shelled out the twenty bucks to see the movie.

And while it's theoretically possible that the unstated purpose on behalf of the filmmaker changes when the subject is a little girl, it can't be denied or even overlooked that, for a certain subset of the viewing population, the effect does not. I'm reticent to accuse the woman who made this film of directly catering to the desires of pedophiles – but after having sat through an hour and a half of shot after shot of this very overt technique, I can't completely dismiss the idea, either.

As Amy progresses down the path that her (barely) world-wise friends have chosen, she becomes far more steeped in it, because she has no sense of the unseen boundaries which exist even in a hedonistic postmodern society such as present-day France. She spirals out of control very quickly, trying to outdo her friends in overt displays of sexuality and even violent aggressiveness. If there is a redeeming quality to the message of the movie, it is that we are fairly explicitly told through what we see her go through that this is not the best life for her. That escaping from the oppressive Muslim traditions of her family is a thing she should seek, but that this is not the way to go about it. All throughout her journey, we are subjected to close-up images of her body (and the bodies of the other girls). At one point, Amy's mother and aunt seem to be performing a kind of exorcism on her to drive out the evil rebellious spirits they believe have taken over, and Amy vibrates in the middle of the room on her knees in a paroxysm of movement which is half-dance, half-apparent-demonic possession, and all sex. I don't mean to be graphic here, but she may as well have been doing a full-on sex scene, for all the heavy breathing and gyration and rank passion that's going on. As an adult – and particularly as a parent – it made me literally feel ill to watch.

It's a beautiful final scene... but it fails to pull the film from the mire into which it's dipped.

And, if you believe the film's director, that's what you're supposed to feel. She claims that the whole intent of the movie is to get people to feel uncomfortable as they realize the hyper-sexualized nature of children in our modern world, and how it's driven by the nanny state that is social media in our modern era. Part of me wants to applaud the effort – it certainly worked on me. I walked away from my television with a feeling of nausea and a renewal of the commitment in my head toward doing anything and everything I can to make sure that my own children never watch this film. The fact that the movie ends with Amy making a choice to reclaim her childhood – that she walks away both from the more oppressive elements of her Muslim upbringing (insofar as she will be able – we are never told) and from trying to become an adult too soon (insofar as she will be able – we are also never told) and embraces just being an 11-year-old girl – that fact doesn't change what's transpired. It's a beautiful final scene – it really is – but it fails to pull the film from the mire into which it's dipped.

In summary, I can't really put any sort of seal of approval on this film, despite part of me wanting to. I generally subscribe to the idea that showing us a thing is far better than telling us a thing – but there are limits, and I think Cuties crosses them. As much as I want to believe that the director's motives are pure as the driven snow, it's not lost upon me that – as I mentioned before – one of the main characters (with whom we are meant to be sympathetic multiple times throughout the film) is very obviously meant to be the prototypical girl-who-wants-to-be-AOC. This film is at war with its own supposed message – it seeks to convey the horrors of oversexualized youth while laying out on for open display an entire smorgasbord of pedophilic fantasies. The game simply isn't worth the candle.

We've heard a lot about critical race theory lately, and for good reason: It's a racist ideology designed to corrupt our children and undermine our American values. But most of what we see are the results of a process that has been underway for decades. And that's not something the mainstream media, the Democrat Party, and even teachers unions want you to know. They're doing everything in their power to try and convince you that it's no big deal. They want to sweep everything under the rug and keep you in the dark. To fight it, we need to understand what fuels it.

On his Wednesday night special this week, Glenn Beck exposes the deep-seated Marxist origins of CRT and debunks the claims that it's just a harmless term for a school of legal scholarship. Newsweek opinion editor Josh Hammer joins to argue why we must ban critical race theory from our schools if we want to save a very divided nation.

Watch the full "Glenn TV" episode below:

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On the radio program Monday, Glenn Beck blasted the Democrats — and anyone else on the left — who have been so eager to open our southern U.S. border for the past several months, but also willing to turn a blind eye to the Cuban people in need of help today.

"While we are welcoming people from any country, all over the world, without any kind of information, and setting them into our country, putting them on American planes paid for by American taxpayers," Glenn began. "And our Coast Guard Cutters are turning these [Cuban] people away. Shame on you! Shame on you!"

Glenn said that he's "sick and tired" of hearing about "brave" leftist activists like Colin Kaepernick, who protest the America flag while wearing Che Guevara and Fidel Castro t-shirts. Meanwhile, the Cuban people are risking their lives by taking to the sea to escape their oppressive regime and come to America.

"Anybody who glorifies Che doesn't know their ass from their elbow. You can't call them a human rights activist. You're protesting the American flag, because you so deeply believe in the right to be free? And yet, you wear a Che T-shirt?" Glenn said.

Glenn went on to argue that, even though the left has "bastardized" the meaning of our country, he still believes America is the best nation on Earth. In fact, he'd give up his citizenship "in a heartbeat" if another country could prove to be better, more noble, and more free. But no other nation exists like ours, he said, which is why it's so imperative we fight for freedom here, in Cuba, and around the world.

Watch the video clip below to hear Glenn explain:

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There's a new "reality" spreading, and the mere act of questioning it has become incredibly dangerous, Wall Street Journal investigative journalist Abigail Shrier told Glenn on the most recent episode of "The Glenn Beck Podcast."

Shrier's book, "Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters," exposes the radical gender activism that — like critical race theory — has overtaken our children's schools and culture. But even worse, she warned, it could end your parental rights for good.

Shrier made it clear she is by no means "anti-trans," but simply speaking up against the extremes of this new "reality" has made her enemy No. 1 to many activists. Her book has been bashed so hard by the Left that Target has stopped selling it twice, Amazon once banned ads for it, and the American Booksellers Association even called sending it to others "a serious, violent incident."

In the clip below, Shrier explained why she believes "there may be no hope for the public school system."

"You have teachers behaving like activists across the country who have no interest in actually teaching. They believe their job is to remake your child," she asserted. "We're seeing so much evidence of that, I think it's fair to say that it may be too deeply rooted in the ideology being taught in public school. I'm not sure that the public school system is redeemable at this point."

Watch the video clip below for more or find the full podcast with Abigail Shrier here:

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What is actually in Texas' new GOP-led voting bill? Nearly every Texas House Democrat fled the state to block its passage, calling it racist and oppressive, and President Joe Biden backed them as well.

But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Friday to set the record straight and call out the lies: All of these claims are "completely false." He also explained his promise to "arrest" the Texas House Democrats when they return to the Lone Star State.

"What is in the bill is completely different than what they're saying, what Kamala Harris is saying, what President Biden is saying. What's in the bill actually increases the number of hours that people have to vote in the state of Texas. In the state of Texas, we have at least 12 days of early voting, and we are adding hours to those days. And on top of that, we are giving people time off from work to be able to vote. Bottom line, we're making it easier to vote in the state of Texas," Gov Abbott explained.

"In comparison, Delaware — the state that President Biden votes in — has exactly zero hours of early voting," he added. "That said, there is one thing that we're doing in the state of Texas, and that is we're making sure we tighten the reins on mail-in ballots that can lead to voter fraud. And it's not me saying that. It's a federal judge, appointed by Barack Obama, in Corpus Christi, Texas, who wrote in a legal opinion that voter fraud occurs, quote, in abundance as it concerns mail-in ballots. We know. Texans know. There is fraud in mail-in ballots in the state of Texas. It must be fixed. That's one thing we're trying to do. That being said, all these claims that we're denying people the right to vote and yada, yada, yada, are completely false."

Abbott went on to discuss the much-debated voter ID laws in Texas and to explain why Democrats insist on calling basic voter ID requirements "racist."

"When Democrats do not have truth on their side, they resort to one single word and that is 'racism' ... Texas implemented voter ID almost a decade ago, and when we went through that fight, what word did they use? Racism," he said. "Guess what? After Texas imposed voter ID requirements in the state of Texas, there have been more people voting and more people of color who went to vote. Voting didn't get harder. It got easier and more abundant in the state of Texas. And so, once again, Democrats have absolutely no legal standing, other than to say, 'racism.'"

Glenn asked Gov. Abbott to explain his pledge to "arrest" the Democratic lawmakers that fled once they return to Texas.

"Let me explain how this works. So, whenever there is a break of quorum, which is what is happening now — meaning there is not a sufficient number of people who are showing up to the Texas House of Representatives for the Texas House to engage in business. Whenever there's a quorum break like that, the House issues what's called a 'call on the House.' And when that happens, the sergeant-at-arms is authorized to work with the Texas Department of Public Safety, to — you can call it arrest, apprehend, whatever you want to call it — any of the members who are not in the Texas House of Representatives and bring them to the Texas House where they will be 'cabined' with no ability to leave the Texas House chamber, without a permission slip from the speaker."

Watch the video clip below for more details:

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