Yet another drama about a young girl with cancer that wallows in excessive sentiment? Babyteeth, the winner of the Brussels International Film Festival, is of a different order.
For once you can ignore your reflex to avoid dramas about young girls with cancer because they tend to wallow in excessive sentiment and pity or present a set of life lessons that don't impress anybody except adolescents. Babyteeth, the winner of the Brussels International Film Festival, is of a different order.
Yes, the film is about the sixteen-year-old Milla who is terminally ill, but instead of focusing on the abject misery of the difficult chemotherapy, hospital scenes, and dying, it instead focuses on a life that continues despite all its unpredictable ups and downs. And so it still leads to intense moments of joy, great discoveries, and conflicts with overly concerned parents (played by the brilliant Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis). Parents who are also only people who sometimes say the wrong things at the wrong time and are being destroyed by grief in a situation that nobody would ever wish for.
Milla, played by Eliza Scanlen with a performance that will guarantee her future employment, does not want to fade away and seizes the chance to fully embrace her first great love. The only problem is that she falls for a bad boy (Toby Wallace) who is seven years older and addicted to drugs. Her bourgeois parents do not approve.
The Australian Shannon Murphy is clever enough not to let her lively film debut end in catharsis or the pronouncement of some great message. With a daring but effective cinematography and a striking use of colour, Murphy also attempts to seize every moment. She doesn't always manage, but still often enough to grip her audience.
AU, dir.: Shannon Murphy, act.: Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace, Ben Mendelsohn, Essie Davis