Babyteeth (2019)

Those of who who have been following this blog for a while, or have spoken to me for an extended period of time, know that I LOVE slice of life dramedys, especially ones with a cool visual style and a female lead. For evidence of this, view my love for Ghost World and Lady Bird. I also love films that go into dark subject matter, 50/50, for example, is one of my favourite comedies. So lets look at this film:

  • Slice of life dramedy? Check.
  • Female lead? Check.
  • Dark themes? The lead has cancer, so check.
  • The lead has funky hair? Check.

So this should be one of my favourite films of the year, but it pains me to say that it may be one of my least favourites. It’s not one of the worst, it has too many good things about it for that to be the case, but from a subjective standpoint I just could not enjoy this. I never hide the fact that these reviews are entirely subjective, that’s why Lego Batman movie gets a more positive review than Dunkirk. This approach hits some films more than others, and never will it hit harder than for this.

This film lost me in three of the opening scenes, to the point where it would have had to work VERY hard to get me back in.

1: The “meet-cute”

If your story is based around a romance between two people, you need the introduction of the two to each other to have a certain spark. Whether it’s locked eyes from across the room, one helping the other with an issue, or even just sitting near each other and their being an unexplained chemistry. So how do these characters meet? He bumps into her whilst running at a train. At first I thought what had happened was him bumping into her slowed his momentum as he attempted suicide by jumping in front of the train. I actually loved that as it would have been incredibly unique and funny. Now I look back at it I’m not entirely sure that was the case, there is a slight chance it might have been though so I won’t hold that against it. What I will hold against it is the following: they start talking and she gets a nose-bleed. How does he stop it? Pretty much like this:

Yes, he basically smothers her face (with a cloth though, not just his hand). Oh, and you have no idea how much I had to search before I found a non-porn picture like that. It genuinely looks like it’s going to start a kidnapping scene, especially once he gets onto the floor and pulls her down with him. For some reason she finds this cute, so he asks her for money, which she gives him. It’s at this point the film is begins to make me feel uncomfortable.

2. The therapy scene

Soon after this we’re introduced to a scene titled something like “9am Tuesday appointment” which features a woman and a therapist talking and then having sex. It’s not made clear until near the end of the scene that they’re husband and wife so you’re sitting there thinking it’s a man abusing a vulnerable patient and then by the time you realise it’s not you’ve forgotten what actually happened in the scene as none of your notions about what was happening were correct. This is good a time as any to point out how weirdly the film introduces major plot points. How do we find out the main character has cancer? A title card that says “remission”. It’s not set up AT ALL.

3. The Dinner scene

This is where we find out the characters ages. The girl? 16, the guy (Moses), 23. So this film is about a 23 year old guy (who already has a girlfriend) going out with a 16 year old cancer patient, breaking into her house to steal things, and at one point stealing her drugs. Why should I give a shit about it?

Like I said, it would have taken A LOT for the film to come back from these scenes, and it never even looks like it’s going to. Moses never gets any better, never has a redeemable moment that makes him likeable. He continues doing awful things throughout the film and is never held accountable. His relationship with the main character (Milla) is basically this:

Moses: *steals from her*

Milla: You dick I hate you, leave!

Moses: *breaks into her room in middle of night*

Milla: I forgive you

Moses: *takes her to a house party and makes out with a girl in front of her*

Repeat ad nauseam.

It all makes for an incredibly frustrating watch. He doesn’t even make up for it in the closing scenes. Chronologically (there’s a random flashback at the end with no indication as to when it was) this film ends like this: She tells him the pain is too much and asks him to smother her with a pillow until she dies. He does it but stops halfway through, they then have sex. Yup, they really did a euthanasia-based sex scene. Fuck that. He wakes up the next morning and says hi to her parents and has a smoke. By this point, she is dead, and he doesn’t mention it to her mum before she goes to wake her up. He doesn’t even have the decency to look shocked. Well he might do but you can’t fucking see as the scene is weirdly shot with him being half in, half out the door so you can’t get a proper look at his face, instead being met with the far more interesting sight of beige. In that scene you NEED to see his emotion. You need to see the emotional conflict he’s going through, and this film hides that from us, and is all the worst for it. There are multiple sub-plots I haven’t mentioned because in the end they meant absolutely nothing.

Now onto the positives: the colours were wonderful. It had a vibrant palette that really popped and was interesting visually. Also the music was incredible, it had possibly one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard all year. That cannot make up for the rest of the film though. It doesn’t make up for how, I’m really struggling to find the words here. Well, you know how when you do exercise in the middle of a heat wave? (like running, jogging, or standing up out of a chair). You know that horrible sticky sweat you get? The sweat that clings to your body like it’s semi-solid and hangs in the air so you can almost taste it? Watching this film feels like touching that. It also reminded me of one of the worst songs in existence

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