I will be completely straight and frank at the start of this article and throughout that I am basing this on the trailers and promotional material. I have tried to stay away as much as I can from other bloggers views on the film and don’t want to get in to what he said and she said on Twitter or in reviews… That’s a whole different story and one which possibly goes even further than the source material itself, and in many cases has become down right slanderous and obscene… But again I don’t want to get in to this as it would take me too long to make sure that I had all the facts without just adding my 2 cents worth to the slander train!
The way Netflix describes the film on YouTube accompanying the trailer is:
Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.Netflix (via YouTube), 18th August 2020
On IMDB on the other hand the description of the film is a little more in depth and I believe is more in line with the original promotional material:
Amy, an 11-year-old girl, joins a group of dancers named “the cuties” at school, and rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity – upsetting her mother and her values in the process.IMDB, 9th September 2020
This movie is a French film (in France originally called Mignonnes) and it does deal with the development of femininity and sexuality in girls in our society today, influenced by pop culture and the images and icons they grow up with, along with the push they get from men in society. I say men, I should say males, as men and boys who are going through their own gender identity growth can be just as bad as adult when it comes to the way they treat girls. All of these themes may well be representative of how some girls feel or act as they grow up, and yes of course it is understood and widely accepted that certain traits, characters, people, events, concepts, what ever it may be – if they’re central to a story they will be blown up and exacerbated for the benefit of the film.
This is something which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone here… When is the last time you watched a Rom-Com and thought, yeah, that’s exactly how romance goes? However there are certain themes which this film explores which absolutely don’t need to actually be committed to screen.
Did the clothes need to be that tight and revealing?
Did the girls need to be quite so young? I for one think that if the impact you wanted was to highlight how young girls are pushed in society from a sexual perspective, I think that point could have been just as well made with older girls.
Did the dance routines really need to be sexualised as much as they did? I really don’t think that we need to see young girls twerking.
Finally… Did we really need close up shots of their butts… and no, it doesn’t matter that they are clothed. When you have a close up shot of the ass of a woman in tight leather look trousers, there is only one feeling which you are trying to evoke. It is meant to be sexual – this is not something anyone should be re-creating with child actors.
I’m certainly not on my own in thinking that this film goes a few steps too far. There’s one thing in implying the struggles of these girls and it’s a whole other to show them on screen for the enjoyment of the people who cause this problem! You know that it’s an issue when there’s an online campaign to boycott Netflix (leading to them having the lowest value they’ve had for the past month, after enjoying their shares sky rocket during the COVID-19 pandemic lock downs) and Netflix have to not only issue an apology but change their marketing material for the film as well – They clearly admit themselves that the artwork is inappropriate. Here’s the thing though, that artwork is from the film so why is not still inappropriate when it’s in the film?:
At the Sundance Festival it won the directors jury award and it has been widely praised for the film itself, the writing and the directing. Personally I don’t like this style of film, or the way it is directed but I do know that it’s a popular style for the types of films which are showcased at film festivals. I haven’t seen the film but I don’t doubt that it’s well written or that it tackles an important subject… It might surprise you to know that it was written and directed by a woman. A lot of people assume that it comes from the mind of a pervert, but that’s just not the case. Speaking about the film in Cineeuropa Maïmouna Doucouré said:
“This is most of all an uncompromising portrait of an 11-year-old girl plunged in a world that imposes a series of dictates on her. It was very important not to judge these girls, but most of all to understand them, to listen to them, to give them a voice, to take into account the complexity of what they’re living through in society, and all of that in parallel with their childhood which is always there, their imaginary, their innocence.”
“Today, the sexier and the more objectified a woman is, the more value she has in the eyes of social media. And when you’re 11, you don’t really understand all these mechanisms, but you tend to mimic, to do the same thing as others in order to get a similar result. I think it is urgent that we talk about it, that a debate be had on the subject.”“This isn’t a health & safety ad”, Cineeuropa 18th August 2020
It is clear that her heart is in the right place and whilst it’s not a health and safety ad, it should be a stark warning and wake up call to society… If it’s not, all it really is, is with its TV-MA age rating is an entertaining, if shocking film for the entertainment for adult audiences. And that is something which is firstly not OK, and secondly for the majority of people absolutely not the case. I don’t know if Netflix will back peddle on the release of this film, and perhaps the damage has already been done to some extent, but is this really the direction we want entertainment media to head?
I know I don’t.
Now if you think you need to make up your own mind about this film, it’s still on Netflix… I for one totally understand the premise and I know why the film has been produced, and I don’t need to see more of it than the trailer to see that the story could have been told differently.