Shannon Murphy


7.2 Babyteeth (2019) Links:

Shannon Murphy (Australia) debuted with Babyteeth (2019), a heartwrenching drama that is as much about dying than it is about growing up. A 16-year-old school girl, Milla, is waiting for a train at a train station when a crazy kid pushes her and then behaves like he's going to jump under the train. Scared, she doesn't board the train with her girlfriends and remains alone with the crazy Moses. Her nose starts bleeding and he offers his shirt. He then asks her for money because he's been evicted but she only has a big banknote which he thinks it's too much. A middle-age couple has sex on the desk of the man's studio. The man, Henry, is a psychiatrist. They are interrupted by a phone call and the woman, Anna, leaves to go and pick up her daughter Milla: they are her parents. Meanwhile, Moses has taken Milla to his mother's house, which is the place from which he has been "evicted". Moses is cutting Milla's hair but they are interrupted when his mother walks in with his little brother Zach and threatens to call the police. Another time Milla takes Moses home to meet her parents. Her mother is shocked to hear that Moses is seven years older than Milla. Her mother sounds neurotic and admits she's taking pills. She embarrasses Milla with the story of how she was born. Moses, feeling undesired, leaves but takes Milla's money that he had refused at the train station. Milla is studying violin but seems to be a terrible student. Milla needs chemiotherapy, so we learn that she has cancer. One night Anna hears noises in the kitchen and catches Moses stealing: he is looking for prescription pills, a sign that he is a drug addict. Henry is about to call the police but Milla pleads for Moses and the parents don't have the guts to hurt her feelings, so he stays for the night. In the morning Anna casually interrogates Moses who admits that he has a girlfriend of his age. They then drive Milla to school. Milla is wearing a wig of long blond hair. She shows too much attachment to Moses and Anna warns Moses to stay away from her. Meanwhile Henry has run a couple of times into pregnant neighbor Toby and almost gets electrocuted trying to help her fix a light bulb. Milla buys two tickets for the prom. Milla is still studying violin and her teacher is impressed that she has improved. He guesses that she must be in love. We learn that the music teacher used to be in love with Milla's mom Anna when they were playing together: she was a pianist. Moses comes to visit and Anna can't stop Milla from seeing him. Milla invites him to the prom and he accepts but then she has to throw up. One night she climbs down her window and joins Moses who is playing basketball with friends. Moses tells her that he has to work. She follows him. They steal something from a pharmacy. Moses sells some drugs. A friend invites them to a party. Moses meets his girlfriend. Milla dances with another kid. Milla gets drunk. Moses gets angry with the kid who made her drink and takes her to the roof where she falls asleep. Moses gets a phone message and leaves her. Her parents are driving around the city looking for her. Milla wakes up at dawn and somehow her parents find her and somehow she gets hospitalized. When Milla returns home, her mom stops taking pills and Henry gets mad at her. Henry kisses the pregnant neighbor but then walks away, ashamed. Later Anna catches him shooting morphine in his arm and he swears it's the first time. Eventually Henry confronts Moses. Moses runs away afraid that something bad happened to Milla, but Henry instead wants to invite him to stay with them because he makes Milla happy and Henry promises to get him the drugs he wants. Moses sleeps on their couch and during the day entertains Milla, but one day Milla realizes that he is on drugs in her house, and that her father Henry has been providing the drugs. She realizes that her father has been "paying" Henry with drugs to entertain her. Milla gets angry at her parents for doing it, and kicks Moses out. At the same time the parents learn that Milla has a lump, a sign that the cancer is spreading despite the chemiotherapy. It's Christmas time and Moses tries in vain to enter his mother's house: she doesn't let. Moses has no choice but to return to Milla. The family invites him to her birthday party. Also invited are the music teacher, the pregnant neighbor and others. The party is interrupted when Toby needs to be driven to the hospital: she's giving birth. That night Milla tells Moses that the pain is becoming unbearable and begs Moses to suffocate her with a pillow. Moses obeys but then she pushes him away and they make love. In the morning their parents gossip that Milla probably lost her virginity and smile. Moses comes out of the bedroom and calmly smokes a cigarette. Anna walks into the bedroom to bring Milla some breakfast and... finds her dead. Moses tells her that she was dead when he woke up. (We are not told whether he smothered her or how else Milla killed herself). The film ends with a flashback. Henry and Anna are at the beach with Milla, Moses and Toby. Alone with her father, Milla tells him that she's tired of living and asks him to take care of Moses. Milla takes a picture of her parents (instead of the other way around).

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