“This is the worst possible parenting I can imagine.”Anna
An idiosyncratic Australian indie, Babyteeth takes a familiar subgenre with a seriously ill teenage child, but treats the traditional formula with almost perverse contempt. Milla begins the film by bringing home a 23-year-old drug addict, leaving her parents with a dilemma between protecting and supporting their daughter. All four central characters are deeply flawed but we empathise with each of them (sometimes alternatingly) as they are trying desperately hard not to hurt one another. Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis are perfectly paired as parents faltering under the weight of their child’s illness, though it is Eliza Scanlen’s powerful performance as the chaotic Milla that carries the film. In a story filled with poor decisions, hers are ultimately the most understandable as — like any teen — she prioritises living over surviving. Shannon Murphy has delivered one of the most arresting directorial debuts in recent years, rich with emotion without becoming cloying, whilst the handheld camerawork provides an intimate perspective without becoming voyeuristic.