So what was the controversy about? Distant critics – mostly people who have never seen the film – have been devastated Duties, a French drama about a teenage immigrant who befriends a group of classmates and joins their dance group because the girls in the film dance “a little too sexy” for their age.
The thing is … that’s exactly the fucking point. These girls, fascinated by older girls poking their hips and dancing seductively, simply imitate what they see in society. In the two scenes which, if viewed out of context and seemingly set off an alarm, would be filmed as an amateur music video that did its job to make you feel uncomfortable. The even more inappropriate climatic dance sequence is portrayed as such in the film, with the people in the audience (mainly parents) acting with shock and disgust about what they are experiencing.
The point is … the controversy is completely exaggerated. And it distracts from a surprisingly decent drama, a well-acted and well-told story about a girl stuck between cultures and trying to find her place as she grows up. Fathia Youssouf is fantastic as 11 year old Amy.
Duties is by no means a must-see, but it’s an engaging little production that doesn’t deserve the shellacking it received (ironically, it probably got 10 times the audience it would otherwise have). Don’t let faux controversy put you off.
Rating by Erik Samdahl, unless otherwise stated.