Review: Babyteeth

PUBLISHED: 10:27 06 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:27 06 August 2020

Shannon Murphy's Babyteeth. Picture: Lisa Tomasetti

Shannon Murphy's Babyteeth. Picture: Lisa Tomasetti

Lisa Tomasetti

Babyteeth (15) lulls you into its emotional core, though its more conventional than you might expect.

Shannon Murphy's Babyteeth. Picture:Lisa TomasettiShannon Murphy's Babyteeth. Picture:Lisa Tomasetti

It’s a teen cancer movie, though initially it looks like it is open to exploring other options. The first half resembles some kind of Mike Leigh style tragi-comic exploration of relationships in a Sydney suburb coated with a kind of American Beauty cynicism and sheen. But the kid is dying and that’s always going to take precedence.

Milla (Scanlen) is the one doing the chemotherapy but everybody in her household is having a tough time with their medication. Bogan boyfriend Moses (Wallace) is a drug addict while her psychiatrist father (Mendelsohn) tries to control her highly-strung mother (Davis) with various tranquilisers.

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Events are broken up by a rapid succession of little title cards, one every couple of minutes. They often place an ironic distance between the audience and the characters, which softens gradually. The film lulls you slowly into its emotional core, but the emotional core turns out to be more conventional than you were led to expect. Ultimately though Babyteeth is all about the four central performances, which are exceptional.

Shannon Murphy's Babyteeth. Picture: Lisa TomasettiShannon Murphy's Babyteeth. Picture: Lisa Tomasetti

4/5 stars

Directed by Shannon Murphy.

Starring Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace, Essie Davis, Ben Mendelsohn, Emily Barclay and Eugene Gilfedder. In cinemas. 118 mins. ****

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