Teen drama with a touch of comedy — or teen comedy with a touch of drama — is not an easy genre. The story about a girl (or a boy) going from adolescent to adult (the “coming of age”) does not abound among the film premieres of contemporary Hollywood as the stories of superheroes, the remakes from animated classics or the sequels to adrenaline-fueled action movies. The good news is that when a movie in this genre manages to carve out a niche, it is usually good.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), The Fault in Your Stars (2014), Lady Bird (2017), Call Me by Your Name (2018), Love, Simon (2018), The Souvenir and Booksmart (2019) are some of the best examples from the past decade. This begins with the Australian: Baby Teeth, which will be released on video on demand in the United States on June 19.
In Baby TeethEliza Scanlen (Sharp Objects, Little Women) plays Milla, a 15-year-old Australian who lives in a middle-class Sydney suburb with a therapist father (Ben Mendelsohn) and a pianist mother (Essie Davis). Milla could be the typical bland teenager who goes to a girls’ school and plays the violin, if it weren’t for one small detail: she has a terminal illness. When Milla meets Moses (Toby Wallace), a boy somewhat older than her and who earns a living as she can by dealing with pills, she falls in love instantly. And that’s the premise of Baby Teeth.
If teen romance isn’t your thing, don’t frown. This is anything but a sugary, easy-tear story. There are many topics that director Shannon Murphy (Killing Eve) deals in Baby Teeth, from a script by Rita Kalnejais. With a style devoid of any affectation, camera in hand and very close-ups of its protagonist, Baby Teeth It tells us about the mourning and the constant uncertainty that life can be. The film explains the crisis that Milla’s parents are going through, it exposes the sacrifices that her mother has made in her career. Addresses the issue of addiction, desire, the midlife crisis.
Baby Teeth it is an ode to life and a breath of fresh air. Milla does not experience any of the typical teenager’s embarrassment or fear issues when expressing her feelings. She kisses Moses the second time they meet. You don’t have time for the usual seduction games. You cannot afford to be shy. With Moses, the young woman finds a pleasure in life that her parents are unable to ignore. Adults allow and even encourage a relationship that they would otherwise have censored.
The film, halfway between drama and comedy, is narrated in the form of small snapshots introduced by titles such as: “When Milla took Moses home to meet his parents”, “Romance” or “That day did not seem a love story”. The soundtrack is loaded with catchy themes (“Come Me Way” by Sudan Archives, “For Real” by Mallrat, “Bizness” by Tune-Yards, “Diamond Day” by Vashty Bunyan or “The Lost Song” by The Cat Empire ), sometimes even danceable, but still framing Baby Teeth as a indie singular and idiosyncratic.
Beyond its uniqueness, the film will also remind you of the classics of the genre of the last decade. Share the inevitability and concerns of The Fault in Our Stars. Milla’s sudden obsession with Moses may remind you in many ways of the protagonist of The Souvenir. And Booksmart had an underwater sequence during a fun night, Baby Teeth It has a phosphorescent lights base for another fun night. Milla is as bright and precocious as Lady Bird.
Everything, set in an Australian city where it is possible to bathe in the pool or even go to the beach in December and where the sun seems to never stop shining.