“Babyteeth” Finds Heart And Quirk In A Tragic Situation


There’s a version of Babyteeth that could have been made which would have overplayed the quirk and cuteness factor. Luckily, no one involved in this movie is looking to do that. There are times where that method is needed, but here, it’s all about the heart of the matter. Babyteeth has a ton of ambition, keeps you on your toes, and showcases again that not only is Ben Mendelsohn a deeply underrated actor, but that Eliza Scanlan is one of our more exciting up and coming actresses. Despite a few hiccups along the way, everyone involved makes this work something that truly stands out. Come Friday, when it release, you’ll understand why.

The film is a dramedy, centered on Milla (Scanlan) a seriously ill teenager. When she meets and falls in love with drug dealer and all-around troubled Moses (Toby Wallace), it’s as equally what she needs as it is her parents’ worst nightmare. Her mother Anna (Essie Davis) is often numb from medication, while her father Henry (Mendelsohn) is trying to wrangle everyone, so the family dynamic was already complicated, before Milla introduces Moses to the mix. As much as her parents dislike Moses, they do see the renewed energy that he brings to their daughter. The closer she gets to him, despite a number of bumps along the way, the more her parents, as well as others in and around her orbit, see that she’s truly starting to live her life, whether or not she has a ton of time left on Earth. Shannon Murphy directs a screenplay by Rita Kalnejais, with cinematography from Andrew Commis, as well as a score by Amanda Brown. Rounding out the cast are the likes of Emily Barclay, Andrea Demetriades, Eugene Gilfedder, and Charles Grounds, among others.

Eliza Scanlan shines here, taking a complex character from filmmaker Shannon Murphy and scribe Rita Kalnejais, diving headlong into it, and making Milla something truly special. All three of them really come together and craft a protagonist that feels incredibly alive. Ben Mendelsohn is excellent too, though Scanlan is the one you remember best, by the end. Kalnejais and Murphy don’t fare as well with the Anna and Moses characters, though the latter is mostly undone by the age difference and creep factor (and Essie Davis is quite good, regardless), but Milla and Henry are terrific creations. Murphy then adds a really unique visual language to it all, further setting this apart from other flicks of this ilk.

Babyteeth is neither as funny as it could have been, nor as sad as it could have been, but by holding back, it manages to have a unique personality, all its own. The quirk factor is limited as well, so while it all feels distinct and slightly dream-like, we always remain within the realm of realism. This deft touch by Murphy is as big a reason why the film works as anything else. Between her and Scanlan, the talent on display here is quite notable.

This weekend, audiences looking for a unique dramedy will find one of the year’s more distinctive movies when Babyteeth opens. The film is far different than you might expect, and that could lead to both unexpected fans as well as puzzled folks. Mostly, though, this is just a high quality flick that deserves your attention. Eliza Scanlan alone is worth the price of admission, but everyone more than does their part. Give it a look and you’ll see why this is one of the best reviewed works of 2020, so far…


Be sure to check out Babyteeth, available to watch on Friday!

(Photos courtesy of IFC Films)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

Follow us

Breaking Hollywood News   


UPDATES BY EMAIL

Comments are closed.