Film recommendation: Babyteeth

This debut feature from Shannon Murphy (Killing Eve) is a fresh, thrilling and moving coming-of-age story which takes the audience on an emotional journey with four flawed, entirely human characters.

Talented young actor Eliza Scanlen (Beth in Little Women and Amma in Sharp Objects) plays Milla, a terminally ill teenager who falls for Moses (Toby Wallace), a drug-dealing ne’er-do-well. Their meet-cute is, really, anything but, although the romance blossoms in her troubled teen mind, and she invites him to stay at their house. Her concerned parents, Anna and Henry, (superbly played by Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn) worry about the relationship with the young man who is eight years older and regularly takes drugs from their house. But we also soon see that Anna and Henry have their own problems around drug dependency as well as a loving but deeply chaotic relationship.

The Australian sunlight adds a brightness to this film about messy, complicated people which manages to be life-affirming while dealing with terminal illness, mental health, addiction and trauma – the characters are living life, however hard it may feel. Milla’s wigs, Moses’ mum’s Bichons Frise, the young lad who hangs around Milla’s violin teacher – there are small details which make this film pop, in a thoroughly engaging way. And the film’s soundtrack is wide-ranging and frequently unexpected, crashing through and heightening the action.

It’s hard to describe this film, but just to say – watch it. It has a zing to see you through a dark, cold and isolated January, but in a way that will boost your brain and leave you thinking and feeling in these distanced times.

Babyteeth is available on Netflix.

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