A seriously ill teenager falls in love with a drug dealer in this award-winning Australian indie drama from debut feature director Shannon Murphy.
"When Milla (Eliza Scanlon, HBO’s Sharp Objects) falls madly in love with a small-time drug dealer, Moses (Toby Wallace, Romper Stomper), it’s her protective parents’ (Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis, The Babadook) worst nightmare. Things get messy and morals go out the window as the lives of those around the family: a sensitive music teacher, a budding child violinist, a disarmingly honest pregnant neighbour become intertwined and Milla shows those in her orbit how to live like you have nothing to lose." (Venice Film Festival)
Winner of the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress (Wallace) and the Fanhear3 Award for Best OTP (Scanlen and Wallace), 2019 Venice Film Festival
2020Rating: M, Mature themes, sex scenes and coarse language117 minsAustralia
Delivering a raw, utterly convincing turn (she even apparently shaved her own head for the role) as a young woman trying to make the most of what’s left of her life, Scanlen is a mesmerising centre around which this, sometimes, stunning film revolves.
In the end, the screenplay’s wry sensibility—Kalnejais breaks the story into chapters, many with sardonic titles like “A Little Bit High” or “Fuck This”—and appreciation for Milla’s determination to push back the encroaching void win out over those distractions.
Emotional compromise finally begets an overwhelming torrent of feeling in “Babyteeth,” a wickedly perverse and, in time, intensely moving variation on familiar coming-of-age themes that marks an arresting feature debut for both director Shannon Murphy and screenwriter Rita Kalnejais.
“Babyteeth” is the kind of soft-hearted tearjerker that does everything in its power to rescue beauty from pain; the kind that feels like it would lose its balance and tip right off the screen if it stopped being able to walk the line between the two.
Cancer rom-coms are certainly a thing, but the debut film by Australian director Shannon Murphy doesn’t quite fall into the genre, even though it’s partly about a dying teenage girl who falls in love for the first time.