Babyteeth (film)

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Official release poster
Directed byShannon Murphy
Screenplay byRita Kalnejais
Based onBabyteeth
by Rita Kalnejais
Produced byAlex White
CinematographyAndrew Commis
Edited byStephen Evans
Music byAmanda Brown
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
  • 4 September 2019 (2019-09-04) (Venice)
  • 23 July 2020 (2020-07-23) (Australia)
Running time
118 minutes
Box office$1 million[1][2]

Babyteeth is a 2019 Australian coming-of-age comedy-drama[3] film directed by Shannon Murphy from a screenplay by Rita Kalnejais, based upon her stage play of the same name. It stars Eliza Scanlen (in her first film appearance), Toby Wallace, Emily Barclay, Eugene Gilfedder, Essie Davis, and Ben Mendelsohn. The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on 4 September 2019. It was released in Australia on 23 July 2020 by Universal Pictures and won nine AACTA awards, including Best Film.

Scanlen plays Milla, a 16-year-old girl from a wealthy family who falls in love with a drug-addict named Moses shortly before she has a cancer recurrence.


Milla Finlay is a 16-year-old school girl, recently diagnosed with cancer. On her way home from school one day she meets 23-year-old Moses on a railway platform, and he almost immediately asks her for money. Milla quickly develops a crush on Moses and introduces him to her parents: Anna, a musician, and Henry, a psychiatrist. Both are uncomfortable with Moses due to the age difference between him and Milla, but are permissive due to Milla's illness.

A while later, Anna wakes up at night and discovers Moses in the process of robbing the family for prescription drugs. Milla and Henry wake up and are alerted to the situation, but while Henry wants to call the police Milla pleads for leniency, which Anna allows, noticing how much happier Milla is with Moses. The following day Anna warns Moses to stay away from her daughter.

Moses continues to visit Milla at school. After she tracks him down one night Moses takes her on his drug runs and then to a party. They later spend the night together on a rooftop, where Moses abandons Milla. Her distraught parents eventually track the weakened Milla down and take her to the hospital.

Aware that they are unable to stop the relationship between Milla and Moses, Henry and Anna become more permissive of their relationship allowing Moses to frequently visit her. When Milla gets ill at home, Anna realises that Moses had stolen her medication. Milla becomes angry, believing that Moses is using her for her father's access to drugs, and kicks him out of her home.

Later Henry tracks Moses down and asks him to come live with the family, promising him access to drugs as long as he continues to make Milla happy. For a while, the family and Moses live in a kind of harmony, until Milla discovers her father is drugging Moses. She gets angry and asks Moses to leave. He eventually comes back and goes through withdrawal in an attempt to stay sober, prioritising his relationship with Milla over his drug addiction.

After Milla's 17th birthday party, a happy occasion, she reveals to Moses that she is in constant pain and knows the end is near. She begs Moses to kill her by suffocation, but he cannot go through with it. Instead, the two have sex for the first time.

The following day Anna and Henry realise that Milla had sex the previous night and are happy for their daughter. When Anna goes to give Milla water in bed after Moses leaves the bedroom, she discovers that she had died during the night.

In a flashback, Henry remembers a day with Milla at the beach. She tells him she is at peace with dying and asks him to take care of Moses when she is gone. Henry, in turn, promises that he and Anna will be okay when she dies.



Babyteeth had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival on 4 September 2019, where it competed for the Golden Lion.[4][5] It also screened at the BFI London Film Festival on 6 October 2019, where it competed in the First Feature Competition.[6] Shortly after, IFC Films and Picturehouse Entertainment acquired US and UK distribution rights to the film, respectively.[7][8]

The film was released in the United States on 19 June 2020,[9] and in Australia on 23 July 2020 by Universal Pictures.[10][11][12]


Babyteeth received positive reviews from film critics, when it screened at the Venice Film Festival.[13] On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a score of 94% based on reviews from 154 critics with an average score of 7.70/10, The site's critics consensus reads: "Powerfully acted and sensitively directed, Babyteeth offers audiences a coming-of-age story that's messier – and more rewarding – than most."[14] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 77 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[15]

David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film "B+", calling it "a movie that's off-kilter but always raw; delicate, but never precious".[16] Variety's Guy Lodge describes it as an "arresting feature debut for both director Shannon Murphy and screenwriter Rita Kalnejais".[3] Michael O'Sullivan of the Houston Chronicle praised Babyteeth, stating that it "works precisely because it refuses to accommodate expectation."[17]

Kevin Maher of The Times gave the film five stars and described it as an "emotionally shattering feature debut from Shannon Murphy".[18]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Venice Film Festival 7 September 2019 Golden Lion Babyteeth Nominated [19][20]
SIGNIS Award Won
Premio Soundtrack Stars Award: Special Jury Prize Won
Adele and Christopher Smithers Award Won
Marcello Mastroianni Award Toby Wallace Won
Brussels International Film Festival (BRIFF) September 2020 Grand Prix, International Competition Babyteeth (Milla) Won [21]
AACTA Awards 30 November 2020 Best Film Alex White Won [22]
Best Direction Shannon Murphy Won
Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted Rita Kalnejais Won
Best Actor in a Leading Role Toby Wallace Won
Best Actress in a Leading Role Eliza Scanlen Won
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Ben Mendelsohn Won
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Essie Davis Won
Best Cinematography Andrew Commis Nominated
Best Editing Steve Evans Nominated
Best Original Music Score Amanda Brown Won
Best Sound Sam Hayward, Angus Robertson, Rick Lisle, Nick Emond Nominated
Best Production Design Sherree Philips Nominated
Best Casting Kirsty McGregor, Stevie Ray Won
6 March 2021 Best International Actress Eliza Scanlen Nominated [23]
Best International Supporting Actor Ben Mendelsohn Nominated
Guldbagge Awards 25 January 2021 Best Foreign Film Shannon Murphy Nominated [24][25]
British Independent Film Awards 22 February 2021 Best International Independent Film Shannon Murphy, Alex White and Rita Kalnejais Nominated [26]
BAFTA Awards 11 April 2021 Best Direction Shannon Murphy Nominated [27]


  1. ^ "Babyteeth (2020)". The Numbers. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  2. ^ "Babyteeth". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b Lodge, Guy (4 September 2019). "Film Review: 'Babyteeth'". Variety. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  4. ^ "Venezia 76 Competition". 25 July 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  5. ^ Vivarelli, Nick (25 July 2019). "Joker, Ad Astra, The Laundromat, Marriage Story to Compete in Venice". Variety. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Babyteeth". 29 August 2019. Archived from the original on 5 September 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  7. ^ McNary, Dave (15 October 2019). "Eliza Scanlen Drama 'Babyteeth' Lands at IFC for North America". Variety. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  8. ^ Dalton, Ben (4 October 2019). "Picturehouse Entertainment acquires Venice Competition title 'Babyteeth' for UK". Screen Daily. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Babyteeth". IFC Films. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  10. ^ Groves, Don (1 June 2020). "Universal sets release dates for 'Babyteeth' and 'Slim & I'". Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  11. ^ Straker, Damien (29 August 2019). "BABYTEETH – Trailer, Synopsis, and Poster". Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  12. ^ York, Keva (21 July 2020). "Australian film Babyteeth stars Eliza Scanlen in bittersweet tale of first love soured by sickness". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  13. ^ Groves, Don (5 September 2019). "Shannon Murphy's 'Babyteeth' wows the critics in Venice". InsideFilm. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  14. ^ "Babyteeth (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  15. ^ "Babyteeth Reviews". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  16. ^ Ehrlich, David (4 September 2019). "'Babyteeth' Review: Eliza Scanlen Leads Vibrant and Touching Australian Cancer Drama". IndieWire. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  17. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (19 June 2020). "Moving yet unsentimental Aussie film 'Babyteeth' is worth your time". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  18. ^ Maher, Kevin. "Babyteeth review — an emotionally shattering feature debut from Shannon Murphy". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  19. ^ "Official Awards of the 76th Venice Film Festival". La Biennale di Venezia. 7 September 2019. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  20. ^ "Collateral Awards of the 76th Venice Film Festival". La Biennale di Venezia. 7 September 2019. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  21. ^ "Jury & Awards". BRIFF. 27 August 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  22. ^ Jefferson, Dee (30 November 2020). "'That we made it at all seems like a miracle': Cate Blanchett's refugee drama sweeps AACTA awards". Australia: ABC. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  23. ^ "AACTA International Awards".
  24. ^ "2020 års Guldbaggenomineringar!". 17 December 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  25. ^ Adelai, Amina; Farran-Lee, Lydia (25 January 2021). "Charter och Spring Uje spring tog hem de tunga priserna". SVT (in Swedish). Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  26. ^ "'Saint Maud,' 'His House,' 'Rocks' Lead British Independent Film Awards Nominations". Variety. 9 December 2020. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  27. ^ "2021 EE British Academy Film Awards: The Winners". 9 March 2021.

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