Cuties can be uncomfortable to watch. It doesn’t pass judgement on the young women it follows. It’s not a preachy PSA about the evils of twerking, nor does it endorse the values of Amy’s friends over those of her family (or vice versa). Instead, the movie lives in the grey areas in between. Some scenes are downright haunting. But the film doesn’t just dwell in the male gaze. Doucouré devotes just as much time to Amy’s relationship with her mother and aunt, as they navigate differing definitions of femininity, both cultural and generational, as well as the more quiet moments of intimacy that exist between girls that age. One scene that has stuck with me is one where Amy and Angelica, who lives in the same building, are hanging out eating candy on the latter’s bed, braiding their hair together as one. It’s a gesture so childish, so deeply earnest, that it’s difficult to reconcile with the personas the two later adopt on stage. But that’s the thing about girlhood — it’s a state of perpetual confusion, a tightrope between the childhood you’re so eager to leave behind and the innocence you later regret once you have.