Title: Baby Teeth
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Shannon Murphy
Starring: Eliza Scanlen, Ben Mendelsohn, Essie Davis
Runtime: 1 hr 58 mins
What it is: When seriously ill teenager Milla falls madly in love with smalltime drug dealer Moses, it’s her parents’ worst nightmare. But as Milla’s first brush with love brings her a new lust for life, things get messy and traditional morals to go out the window. (IMDb)
What we think: I have something to admit, and it’s embarrassing. I watched the entirety of this film seconds behind its audio. Apparently the streaming timing was off so the dialogue never quite matched the actor’s responses. And yet with that odd experience, I still found myself enthralled by this film.
From the moment when Milla (incredible actor Eliza Scanlen) meets Moses (Toby Wallace), their becomes an emotional investment in finding the meaning behind Milla’s stare. As she fixates on Moses, thrusting him almost immediately on her parents Henry (Ben Mendelsohn) and Anna (Essie Davis) Milla’s tragic life seems to gain purpose.
As the film progresses we are lead through the family’s shared concern and Moses’s resistance to his part in it.
The film culminates to a tragic ending, intensified by Eliza Scanlen’s incredible acting, from which we are left with a final, excellently timed scene.
Though the majority of the film’s draw lies in the seemingly simplistic impact of Scanlen’s gaze, her stare often dictating the mood of the scene; the strength of the cast in its entirety compliments the emotional storyline. We sympathize with Anna’s (Essie Davis) almost panic based need to find a reason for her daughter to smile, even so far as accepting a tragic character into Milla’s life while her own relationship struggles. Her husband Henry seems equally detached from the marriage, though seemingly more adrift in his pain than consciously aware of the divide between them.
Moses (Toby Wallace) runs amuck of Milla’s hopes for him, consistently acting out in alignment with his status as both an addict and a youth rejected by his own family. He never rises to the expectations Milla’s love raises for him, and yet you can’t help but feel for him as he tries to improve, only to lose his reason why.
Every celluloid is seemingly captured through a luster lens, giving an almost fairytale quality to the love story. And while the story of a rich girl falls in love with a tragically injured bad boy is not a new story concept, Baby Teeth still carves a new path in terms of emotions.
Our Grade: A-, The final scene, the final dialogue, between Milla and her father Henry may be one of the most poignant and well-timed works of emotional artistry I have seen. The film follows a path that doesn’t lend itself to shock value, and that seems to fit it perfectly. Soft, subtle, and drunk on body language statements, Baby Teeth seeps into your sentiment and demands an empathetic response. I love films where the characters are written too well to truly hate, or truly love, because they are presented truly human, and this film embodies that sentiment perfectly.