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“BABYTEETH” Sad and Emotional




Review by John Delia

Very sad and sometimes upsetting the film Babyteeth tells the story of a teenager with cancer and her wanting to have been loved by a boy and to make love before the end of her life. The acting is very good, but the story is all over the place. Whether it is intentional or a ploy as part of the plot, unfortunately it doesn’t work. What it does for sure is make the platitudinous story drag and lose some of its intended meaning.

Eliza Scanlen as “Milla” and Toby Wallace as “Moses” in Shannon Murphy’s BABYTEETH. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

High School student Milla (Eliza Scanlen) has been fighting cancer with treatment including chemo drugs. Not the most popular at her all girl private school, she avoids interaction keeping mostly to herself. Her parents are very domineering wanting Milla to fight for a chance to live a normal life and continue her violin lessons with hope that she can beat the cancer.

One morning on the way to school she meets Moses (Toby Wallace), a 23 year old boy full of the street life. He has been living homeless since becoming estranged from his family and stealing prescription drugs and selling to pay his expenses. Seeing the energy and the freedom Moses has however, it attracts Milla to the man and the two click.

Essie Davis as “Anna,” Eliza Scanlen as “Milla,” Toby Wallace as “Moses,” and Ben Mendelsohn as “Henry” in Shannon Murphy’s BABYTEETH. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

It’s the budding of this romance and friendship that will take Milla into a world she never knew and give her hope. But with this new found ideology comes a lot of angst between her and her family. Director Shannon Murphy takes her movie in all directions trying to fit every scenario into the film written by Rita Kalnejais. If this is what the book is like, it’s a good example of why screen scripts need to be While it’s an admirable idea, it really doesn’t work here as the story becomes easily predictable and the side stories become obvious filler without much meaning.

Eliza Scanlen as “Milla” in Shannon Murphy’s BABYTEETH. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

That said, the performance by Eliza Scanlen as the teen who finds hope with her newly found ne’er-do-well is an amazing thing to watch. She takes Milla from hiding her feelings in an awkward way, to letting her sensual emotions take flight allowing her rosebud to blossom. She becomes closer to her goal with each meeting letting Moses add another dimension to her life. It’s one of those rare transformations that most actors strive for and with Scanlen she achieves it in spite of the complicated way the film was brought to the screen.

Babyteeth has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains drug use, teen drinking, sex and language. It’s not a comedy.

Babyteeth can be viewed on the following home viewing platforms. Digital Platforms:  iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, YouTube, Vudu, PlayStation, Xbox
Cable Platforms: Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum (Charter, Time Warner, Brighthouse), Verizon Fios, Altice (Optimum), Cox, DirecTV, AT&T, Bend Broadband, Buckeye, Guadalupe Valley, Hotwire Communications, Metrocast, Suddenlink, WOW Internet Cable, RCN, Midcontinent Communications

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very emotional filled performance by Scanlen but not enough to save the film. (2 out of 5 stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace, Emily Barclay, Eugene Gilfedde, Essie Davis, and Ben Mendelsohn
Directed by: Shannon Murphy
Written by: Rita Kalnejais
Genre: Comedy, Drama
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.
Opening Date: June 19, 2020
Distributed by: IFC Films
Released in: Digital, Cable

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