Blue isn't the warmest colour: Eliza Scanlen in Babyteeth
Verdict: 8/10 - Babyteeth is a powerful and engrossing story which boasts four impressive lead performances.
Release Date: 
Friday, August 14, 2020
Written by: 

Eliza Scanlen plays a teenage cancer sufferer who falls for a drug dealer in Shannon Murphy's directorial debut.


Eliza Scanlen launched her Hollywood career playing one of the March sisters in Greta Gerwig's Little Women last year, and fans can now see her debut movie, the independent Australian drama Babyteeth.

Babyteeth, which premiered at the 2019 Venice Film Festival, tells the story of Milla (Scanlen), a 16-year-old schoolgirl and violinist who is battling cancer.

One day she meets drug addict and dealer Moses (Toby Wallace) on a train platform and offers to give him money if he shaves her head - and then brings him home for dinner.

Her parents Anna (Essie Davis) and Henry (Ben Mendelsohn) are not thrilled by this newcomer in their daughter's life - Moses is several years older and is clearly not a good influence.

However, no matter what bad mistakes he makes, like breaking into their home to steal drugs, Milla wants him around and her parents come to realise how happy he makes their daughter and are unable to keep them apart.

It's hard to know what Milla saw in Moses and if she actually loved him and was attracted to him or just wanted to experience love, rebellion and some excitement while she could, and equally, it's never clear if Moses genuinely cares for her or is just using her for access to medication.


Australian actress Scanlen gave outstanding performances in TV miniseries Sharp Objects, alongside Amy Adams, and as Beth in Little Women and she delivers another impressive one here - she's certainly one to watch.

The four leads are all on the top of their game. Mendelsohn gives a subtle yet moving performance while Davis had the showier role as the emotional mother who is medicating quite heavily herself.

Relative newcomer Wallace makes a big impact with his raw acting style and it's no surprise he won a prize at Venice for the role.

Shannon Murphy's directorial debut is a bit too long and slow-moving in places but your patience will be rewarded at the end as the last 10-15 minutes are gripping, emotional stuff.

Although the story isn't told in the most mainstream way, which may put off some viewers, Babyteeth is a powerful and engrossing story which boasts four impressive lead performances.

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