As with the majority of screeners, I don’t research the film too deeply beforehand. I’ve (maybe) watched the trailer, but haven’t dug for details or scrolled through the director’s back catalogue. I like a surprise, and Babyteeth definitely surprised me.
On the surface, Milla Finlay (Eliza Scanlen) is a normal teenage girl, her life seemingly spun upside down when she meets punk rocker Moses (Toby Wallace) on her way to school one morning. But Milla’s life was already in a tailspin as we learn she’s seriously ill, in remission when we first meet her.
Apparently inspired by her close brush with death, Milla welcomes Moses into her family home, partly because she’s in love with him but mostly to irritate her parents, Henry (Ben Mendelsohn) and Anna (Essie Davis). The foursome have to quickly adapt to life together under one roof, all very aware that Milla is sick and that they’d each do anything for her. What follows is a heartbreaking coming-of-age tale, of young love, denial, hope and pure joy as Milla lives out her teenage dreams, shadowed by her parents’ fraught relationship and Moses, who soon realises he’s in deeper than he let on.
Written by Rita Kalnejais and directed by Shannon Murphy, Babyteeth is a somewhat debut for them both; as an actor, this is Rita’s first time writing, and is Shannon’s feature-length directorial debut, having previously worked on shorts and TV shows (including two episodes of Killing Eve). And for Scanlen, too – this was her first big-screen role, pre-Little Women, post-Home and Away and Sharp Objects.
Babyteeth arrives in UK cinemas from Friday 14th August