Babyteeth (2019)


Babyteeth (2019)

When seriously ill teenager Milla falls madly in love with smalltime drug dealer Moses, it's her parents' worst nightmare. But as Milla's first brush with love brings her a new lust for life, things get messy and traditional morals go out the window. Milla soon shows everyone in her orbit - her parents, Moses, a sensitive music teacher, a budding child violinist, and a disarmingly honest pregnant neighbour - how to live like you have nothing to lose. What might have been a disaster for the Finlay family instead leads to letting go and finding grace in the glorious chaos of life. Babyteeth joyously explores how good it is not to be dead yet and how far we will go for love.
IMDb   7.2 /10
Metacritic   77 %
TheMovieDb    6.8 /10
FilmAffinity   6.1 /10
Director Shannon Murphy
Writer Rita Kalnejais
Release Date2020-06-18
Runtime1h 58min
GenreComedy, Drama, Music
Content RatingMA-17 (MA-17)
AwardsAwards28 wins & 28 nominations total
CompanyScreen Australia, Create NSW, Spectrum Films
Millaas Milla
Scarlettas Scarlett
Mosesas Moses
Mariaas Maria
Renee Billing
Renee Billing
Lisaas Lisa
Zack Grech
Zack Grech
Isaacas Isaac
Pollyas Polly
Annaas Anna
Henryas Henry
Eugene Gilfedder
Eugene Gilfedder
Gidonas Gidon
Edward Lau
Edward Lau
Tin Wahas Tin Wah
Jack Yabsley
Jack Yabsley
Government Spokespersonas Government Spokesperson
Ashley Hanak
Ashley Hanak
Dean's Girlfriendas Dean's Girlfriend
Quentin Yung
Quentin Yung
Pharmacistas Pharmacist
Jaga Yap
Jaga Yap
Domas Dom

Babyteeth (film)

Babyteeth is a 2019 Australian coming-of-age comedy-drama film directed by Shannon Murphy from a screenplay by Rita Kalnejais, based upon her stage play of the same name. It stars Eliza Scanlen, 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 who befriends her before asking her for money. Milla quickly develops a crush on Moses and introduces him to her parents: Anna, a musician, and psychiatrist Henry. 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. When Milla gets ill at home, Anna realizes that Moses swiped her medication. Milla becomes angered, 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 but Milla discovers her father is drugging Moses and becomes angered again, asking Moses to leave. He eventually comes back and goes through withdrawal and recovery in an attempt to stay sober.

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 realize that Milla had sex for the first time. When Anna goes to give Milla breakfast in bed, she instead discovers she has 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.


  • Eliza Scanlen as Milla Finlay
  • Toby Wallace as Moses
  • Essie Davis as Anna Finlay
  • Ben Mendelsohn as Henry Finlay
  • Emily Barclay as Toby
  • Eugene Gilfedder as Gidon
  • Edward Lau as Tin Wah
  • Zach Grech as Isaac
  • Georgina Symes as Polly
  • Michelle Lotters as Scarlett


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

The film was released in the United States on 19 June 2020, and in Australia on 23 July 2020 by Universal Pictures.


Babyteeth received positive reviews from film critics, when it screened at the Venice Film Festival. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a "Certified Fresh" approval rating of 94% based on reviews from 144 critics. 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." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 77 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

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

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


AwardDate of ceremonyCategoryRecipient(s)ResultRef.
Venice Film Festival7 September 2019Golden LionBabyteethNominated
Premio Soundtrack Stars Award: Special Jury PrizeWon
Adele and Christopher Smithers AwardWon
Marcello Mastroianni AwardToby WallaceWon
AACTA Awards30 November 2020Best FilmAlex WhiteWon
Best DirectionShannon MurphyWon
Best Screenplay, Original or AdaptedRita KalnejaisWon
Best Actor in a Leading RoleToby WallaceWon
Best Actress in a Leading RoleEliza ScanlenWon
Best Actor in a Supporting RoleBen MendelsohnWon
Best Actress in a Supporting RoleEssie DavisWon
Best CinematographyAndrew CommisNominated
Best EditingSteve EvansNominated
Best Original Music ScoreAmanda BrownWon
Best SoundSam Hayward, Angus Robertson, Rick Lisle, Nick EmondNominated
Best Production DesignSherree PhilipsNominated
Best CastingKirsty McGregor, Stevie RayWon
6 March 2021Best International ActressEliza ScanlenNominated
Best International Supporting ActorBen MendelsohnNominated
Guldbagge Awards25 January 2021Best Foreign FilmShannon MurphyNominated
British Independent Film AwardsFebruary 22, 2021Best International Independent FilmShannon Murphy, Alex White and Rita KalnejaisNominated
BAFTA Awards11 April 2021Best DirectionShannon MurphyPending