Babyteeth ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Shannon Murphy Cast: Eliza ScanlenMichelle LottersToby Wallace, Essie Davis, Ben Mendelsohn

I watched this small independent Australian film with no expectations and I was actually blown away. Despite a seemingly known plot line and all the dangerous pitfalls that a story about a terminally ill young girl carries with it, “Babyteeth” feels like a breath of fresh air: for a start it’s unexpectedly funny, mischievous, delightful, full of light and life. It’s surprising to read that it’s been adapted from a stage play, because it feels anything but stagey and stuffy. But beyond the cancer plot itself (refreshingly not a single doctor or hospital is to be seen in the film), the film is actually a coming of age story and it’s just about the girl herself, Milla, Moses, the older boy from the wrong side of the track and a drug addicted. It is also about her family too (the extraordinary Ben Mendelsohn who’ll soon be owed an Oscar, plays the father). They agree to let her see Moses, because after all how can you deny a dying person to see the man she loves? This is the worst possible parenting I can imagine.” They say knowingly.

Needless to say, given the subject matter, the film is also devastatingly heart-breaking and yet some of the best scenes in the film have nothing to do with Milla’s illness, though it’s obviously always lingering in the background as all the characters are trying to grieve, though not very succesfully. Babyteeth is possibly one of the best debut film of the year.

Director Shannon Murphy treats the material with both sensitivity and a lightness of touch, with humour and realism. Her visual flair, choice of music and attention to detail gives her a unique voice and makes this a film full of love, more than illness.

The final coda had me crying like fountain but it encapsulates the whole film which manages to be both poetic and realistic, funny and poignant all at the same time.

The film is available on streaming to buy or rent right now.

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