Shannon Murphy’s ‘Babyteeth’ is a film about a couple of things – it’s a teenage romance story, a teenage coming of age, and also of the teenage with a disease genre. You would think that would be too much all in one film but the parts of the stories intermingle with each other seamlessly that everything jiust works.
Milla (Elizabeth Scanlen, from the last Little Women film) has cancer, and when she thinks her life has stood still because of it meets Moses (Tobey Wallace) at a train station and falls in love with him. At first he is ambivalent about her, but responds to the affection she shows him. This, for me, is the most interesting aspect of the film – that push and pull of emotions between the two characters – is it an unrequited love? Does he become to love her because of pity, or is it genuine? In stories like these, we never really know what’s real, and the screenplay plays with all aspects of emotions, and Scanles and Wallace are both fantastic – vulnerable both at unexpected times, and showing strength when their characters need to be. What happens is ultimately heartbreaking, and is fantastic filmmaking.
On a smaller level, teenage angst is explored as well in Kellen Moore’s ‘Looks That Kill.’ The premise is cringe-worthy. Max is a teenager (Brandon Flynn) possesses such beauty that whoever sees him, dies. Like literally. It took me a long while for me to get on board with that idea and I didn’t know where the film would go, until Max meets Alex (Julia Golden) and the film, as it turns out, becomes a sweet love story. I mean, even the most beautiful is looking for love, right? It seems like a waste to have Flynn star in a film and then cover his face with bandage, but here we are. I got caught in their sweet story and I bet a lot of young people will, too. This film would be great summer watching while in quarantine.