3rd July 2020

Hate It Or Love It Babyteeth Can’t Be Ignored!

Babyteeth(Video On Demand)

Starring Eliza Scanlen,Toby Wallace,Emily Barclay,Eugene Gilfedder.Essie Davis,Ben Mendelsohn

Directed  by  Shannon Murphy

Rating: ***

To be honest, I don’t know whether  I  liked Babyteeth  or not. That  doesn’t make it  a bad film.It definitely needs to be viewed  for its never-before cinematic language. Startlingly original would be  an understatement. The film’s narrative  language is a blend of casual realism and  heightened fantasy, a device that renders  reality redundant .Because  it all seems  like  a deductible dream derived from a staged opera where the  characters are  the opposite of  grand just because …well, they are like that.  They can’t help it.

The film opens  on a railway station where  our heroine, a terminally ill teenager  named  Milla(Eliza Scanlen) meets Moses(Toby Wallace). He is  a homeless drug addict and  every parent’s worst nightmare. No wonder Milla’s parents,played with  acoustic appropriateness  by  Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn, are far from  pleased when Milla comes  home with Moses.She wants her  parent like him, accept him.She wants  Moses to  be on the family breakfast table. Call it a dying daughter’s demand.  But who can say  no to Milla?

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All this sounds  like  fodder for ferocious  laughter and  to a certain extent the film is furiously funny in ways that cannot described in words. For instance how do I explain the sequence where Milla’s father, a psychiatrist, sprints  out  of  the room  while  conversing with a patient,  goes to his pregnant neighbour’s  home  to change her light-bulb, ends up on the floor and then  suddenly  finds himself kissing his pregnant  neighbour  whose  dog has the same name as Milla’s father(Henry).

Consider  the  components  in the above sequence—a shrink’s  couch, a light bulb,a  pregnant woman who has the  hots for the shrink, a dog named Henry…It’s all too bizarre  to hold together,  yet it does. This fiercely original  film open its arms to embrace  the sheer randomness  of life. There are  no easy  ways to define the moods that govern  the journey  of  this  quirky and whimsical  film filled with a sharp  ray  of  sun that cuts across the   sense of doom .

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 Doom, yes, but never gloomy Babyteeth possesses  the  kind of unique energy  that cinema has seldom seen. It contains  passages  of lyrical beauty undercut by a sudden swerve into savage satire that leaves us confused . It is the story of  very young girl who must experience  all that life has to offer before she  dies.

 While time runs  out  on  Milla there is no such  pressure on the  film. Director Shanon Murphy  focuses on long lingering shots  of  seawaves and  speeding trains .While  life goes  in  unpredictable ways  the world  seems  a better place when seen through eyes that are  not cynical but not  exactly brimming over with compassion either. Rude  and  gentle at  the same time. Babyteeth is  an experience that can’t be put into words.

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