Back to the Cinema #4. Babyteeth.

This Australian indie (currently playing as a theatrical exclusive in reopened cinemas) is a very strange and somewhat muddled affair.  On one level it’s very straight forward straightforward cantering on a terminally ill teenager Eliza Scanlon who falls in love with a local drug dealer (Toby Wallace) much to the behest of her parents (Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn.)  On one level the film is exactly what viewers would expect from that synopsis. A somewhat overwrought John Green style teen romance. On the other hand this is exactly the sort of film festival pandering fare that is going for naturalism and nuance with its performances  (and to a lesser extent the screenplay .) Layer on a well-intentioned but somewhat generic culture clash narrative and you have a film that has no defined audiences outside of critics that will give it  solid festival reviews promptly for the film never to be heard from in any major capacity again. Worth seeking out for the performances (all four leads are excellent) but the somewhat jumbled tone means that for 80% of the running time the performances are in a film that does not really know how best to utilise them. Them comes  the ending which may not tip the film into greatness but is a stunning ,very moving affair that gives some indication of how good the film could have been if it had more cohesion over the course of  the narrative. It is the type of ending always available to these kinds of dramas but very few films would commit to regardless of if they could pull it off effectively (which this film demonstrably does.) It will sit with viewers long after the credits have rolled. Viewers mileage may vary on what the film showcases beforehand but It’s hard to see how anyone could argue the power of the film at its best.

7/10

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