Great Britain

Eliza Scanlen’s role as a cancer sufferer in Babyteeth is raw but whimsical

BABYTEETH (15) 120mins


ELIZA SCANLEN is back in dying-girl mode after playing Beth March in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women.

But in this Aussie coming-of-age dramedy, her teenage cancer sufferer has far more bite.

It’s just another day in the humdrum life of Milla Finlay (Scanlen) when she collides with a small-time drug dealer on the way to school.

Milla is looking for excitement and a distraction from the illness that governs her every move. And in the tattooed, charismatic Moses (Toby Wallace) she has found an object for her untapped affections.

Her liberal parents Anna and Henry (Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn) aren’t quite as enthusiastic about Milla’s new friend.

Anna, a former musician, is on medication for unspecified mental health issues – prescribed by her psychiatrist husband – which makes her a little more forthright in her disapproval of Moses.

But as Milla’s happiness becomes more reliant on the flaky 23-year-old’s presence, her worried folks begin to see the need and urgency of her teenage rebellion.

Rita Kalnejais’ screenplay, based on her stage play of the same name, avoids getting overly sentimental, although the age gap in the young romance is an unnecessary distraction.

Still, the cast has more chemistry than Nobel’s laboratory and it is that team effort, along with Shannon Murphy’s direction, that makes this film raw and whimsical without downplaying the themes of tragedy and womanhood at the story’s heart.

SPREE (18) 93mins


HOW far would you go to go viral? That is the question being solved by Joe Keery’s wannabe influencer in this timely black comedy – and murder is his answer.

Kurt Kunkle is a twenty-something driver for a ride-service app called Spree who is also on a quest for social media stardom. His efforts have not yet proved fruitful. So he decks out his car with cameras as if filming an episode of Carpool Karaoke and begins live-streaming his journeys and passengers.

Unfortunately for the riders, Kurt’s willingness to go to extremes to get more followers sees his kill count rise faster than the viewer numbers for his channel – until comedian Jessie Adams (Sasheer Zamata) becomes embroiled in his homicidal antics.

The film is shot entirely from the perspectives of webcams, social media streams, CCTV footage and smartphones. It could have got old quite quickly if it weren’t for such a charismatic lead in Keery.

The Stranger Things star delivers the perfect balance of dork-next-door earnestness and chilling “incel” entitlement to make you both warm to and fear the guy behind the wheel.

But the scenes without Kurt aren’t nearly as engaging. The casting of real-life influencers Lala Kent and Frankie Grande isn’t quite the authentic addition writer-director Eugene Kotlyarenko likely hoped his film, co-written by Greg McHugh, would benefit from.

But Spree is an often witty comment on the terrifying reality of the digital age and its grip on modern society.

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