Charming and sad
- Babyteeth review by JB
This Australian movie from debut director Shannon Murphy is as charming and life-affirming as it is sad.
The radiant Eliza Scanlen from Greta Gerwig's Little Women plays Milla, a 16 year old girl diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her psychiatrist father (Ben Mendelssohn) and pill-addicted mother (Australian institution Essie Davis) are barely able to cope at the best of times, and threaten to come further off the rails when Milla gets involved with 20 year old dropout Moses (Toby Wallace). But the family's dawning realisation about Milla's limited time left challenges their usual parenting decision-making and Milla's last weeks prove to be pretty wild and inspiring.
Babyteeth is at its best when shining a light on the tensions within love and parenting, illness and life. The direct and generous performances from the top-notch cast tease out the humanity and contradictions within these themes and their character's relationships The script is occasionally a little cheesy (the Christmas scene towards the end is a script draft on from a TV movie of the week; there's also some pretty heavy-handed metaphor about addiction throughout). But the clear-eyed direction from Murphy and the great soundtrack paper over the cracks.
Babyteeth is a fantastic showcase for a talented director and amazing cast and, what's more, a moving, sincere and warm film about a teenage cancer experience, that's arguably better than the more well known The Fault in Our Stars.
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