Eliza Scanlen is between love and a hard place.
Eliza Scanlen earned some attention by playing the youngest sister Beth March in Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women,” which made my list of the best films of 2019. I met her at a special advanced screening of it, and I believe she has a future in her, because of the passion she put in her character.
Before that movie, she has been on some shows like “Sharp Objects” and “Home and Away.” Now, she has another feature film, released on Amazon Prime by IFC Films called “Babyteeth,” which has her portraying a 16-year-old girl from the right side of the tracks meeting a 23-year-old boy from the wrong side of the tracks. And by a strange coincidence, they meet at a train station. So, I have to use those words.
It’s another knock-out movie for the young Australian actress, not just for her performance, but because of how director Shannon Murphy and screenplay writer Rita Kalnejais (adapting her own play) provide characters from different worlds, who either contribute or threaten each other’s lives.
Although, I wouldn’t exactly say the right side of the tracks for Milla (Scanlen), because she suffers from cancer, while attending reform school and taking violin lessons. She shaves her head bald, wears a blonde wig, and eventually, an aqua one, almost looking like Lea Sedoux in “Blue is the Warmest Color.”
The guy she meets is Moses (Toby Wallace), a drug dealer and addict, who was kicked out of his home, and needs a place to stay. And one night, when he tries to rob her house of the medications, Milla invites him to stay the night. The feeling is obviously not mutual with her parents-the psychiatrist Henry (Ben Mendelsohn) and the insomniac Anna (Essie Davis)-because he’s a troubled person.
“Babyteeth” sags in the middle when we see the young lovers go to a party with colorful lights and passionate dancing, until the girl throws ups, because she drank vodka under medication. But it does electrify you when you see how the relationship between them goes, and how difficult it gets. The girl is ill, and the boy is a wreck. But somehow, you’re able to see sparks in them, and both Scanlen and Wallace move you.
Davis also explodes with greta intensity when she tells the boy to stay away from her daughter, when Milla’s cancer drama consumes her. Two movies in a row, in which she gives searing performances: “True History of the Kelly Gang” and “Babyteeth.” And Mendelsohn provides some solid work when he befriends a pregnant woman (Emily Barclay) and worries about his family’s well-being.
This is an international movie about people, their environments, where they come from, who they are, and why they’re in their own state of drama. It has passion, pure emotions, and depression. You loathe how the young lovers are living their lives, but you admire how they connect, and how they change each other’s perspectives. At least, they want to do that, but then again drugs and cancer can damage a person. I don’t now the feeling, but I still would like to sympathize them.
Available on Amazon Prime