Dick Johnson is Dead – Review

Rating: 12A
Cast: Dick Johnson, Kirsten Johnson
Directed by Kirsten Johnson
Written by Kirsten Johnson and Nels Bangerter
Length: 89mins

Released by Netflix in 2020, but drawing from a long and loving relationship between Kirsten Johnson and her father, Richard, ‘Dick Johnson is Dead’ proudly seeks to tackle the one area of life that is so often neglected – death. The first documentary we’ve ever reviewed on this site, the film still uses elements of fiction within the story that it tells, as the director, Kirsten herself, frequently utilises practical and special effects to create scenarios that ultimately end in her father’s untimely demise. Despite the morbid tone to the synopsis that accompanies this documentary, ‘Dick Johnson is Dead’ is perhaps one of the greatest celebrations of life brought to the screen this year.

In the years prior to Dick Johnson’s 86th birthday, his daughter directed a film that seems to work not only as a documentation of her father’s life as it becomes corrupted by alzheimers, but also an attempt to visually show the uncertainty and struggles that are brought on people when someone they love is diagnosed with the illness. As the story progresses, we begin to learn to a greater extent how much the disease has affected the Johnson’s lives, and this documentary almost feels as if it’s the result of understanding that your family will not always be there for you in the same way they once were. ‘Dick Johnson is Dead’ seeks to combat this issue with film itself. Being an acclaimed filmmaker, Kirsten Johnson clearly understands the power of the art form, and in her latest release, utilises the great potential that it has to mimic reality. She may not always have her father, but she will always be able to remember their time together through this film.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of films that are created in dedication to someone that was loved by others, or someone who did something great for someone else, but where ‘Dick Johnson is Dead’ truly shines is in the frequent change between reality and fantasy. To fantasise about something is often considered a positive instinct, but when you begin to make your fantasy a reality, and it comes in the form of acting out the death of someone who you fear you may soon lose, the whole idea comes across as slightly insensitive and cruel. To define the documentary in this way, however, would be to completely miss the point of the whole story. ‘Dick Johnson is Dead’ boasts such a bold title because it’s a celebration of life rather than a mockery of it. Dick Johnson lives as a charming and funny man, so why can’t he die in such a way? Furthermore, to look death in the face and laugh with the people you love takes the edge off of something that will one day happen to all of us, and in ‘Dick Johnson is Dead,’ both Kirsten and Dick choose to spend their time celebrating the life they have together, rather than worry about the one that they one day won’t. 

All in all, ‘Dick Johnson is Dead’ focuses on some fairly heavy topics. It’s not a film that will one day have a happy ending, and for many the story will hit close to home. But these aren’t reasons to avoid watching it, and are instead things that will only allow you to greater connect with and appreciate the storytelling that is going on here. I would recommend the documentary to anyone, and I believe it provides a fresh perspective on the entire film genre.

Summerland – Review

Rating: PG Cast: Gemma Arterton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Penelope Wilton, Lucas Bond and Tom Courtenay Directed by Jessica Swale Written by Jessica Swale Length: 99mins

Summerland is set during World War II and tells the story of writer Alice (Gemma Arterton), who’s surprised one day when discovering she is to provide housing for young London evacuee Frank (Lucas Bond). Though she had no intention to open her door to the boy, Alice eventually opens her heart, discovering that she shares more in common with Frank than she had initially anticipated. 

In Jessica Swale’s debut feature film, she manages to juggle the balance of storytelling between the relational journey of Alice and Frank as well as the romantic narrative that we experience through flashbacks. The flashbacks work really nicely; it’s clear when they’re happening, they aren’t dragged out and their purpose allows the story to progress and character to build rather than just ‘throwing them in’ to make the film more interesting. While elements of the script might be far-fetched, Swale (who wrote the film as well as directed it), was able to create such strong, realistic bonds between her characters which overrides any uncertainty with the action.

As soon as the movie started I wasn’t too concerned with the plot, straight away the ever-dependable Gemma Arterton created such an interesting character in Alice. You see that she’s a bit damaged and bitter but Arterton allows Alice to have a bit of a sense of humour in her own world – demonstrated perfectly when the surprised locals think she’s about to buy a child some chocolate, only to keep the sweet treat for herself and leave with a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face. Lucas Bond did a great job as Frank as well, while there was a risk of his character becoming a little annoying, he managed to keep a steady mix of the child having fun with new friends and the child thrown into a strange new world with the dark shadow of a war-torn London hanging over him. He presented a real sense of maturity in his performance and it was a pleasure to watch.

Essentially Summerland is a film full of wit and charm, Swale knows how to create a smooth tone whilst slipping between the past and present, alternating between two sides of her focal character, the realist and the romantic. The film boasts real substance beneath the surface but keeps it’s feet on the ground. It’s a wonderful example of a great character based film – the story doesn’t matter, anything could have been written in around these characters and I would argue it would be just as captivating. There’s a wonderful sense of humanity to the story and the characters which is why it provides a sense of escapism whilst the world is in turmoil. Though many audiences might have missed its release, I highly recommend trying to watch this movie if you get chance.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Matee II, Jeremy Strong, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levit and Michael Keaton
Directed by Aaron Sorkin
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Length: 130mins

In August 1968, a protest that sought the end of the war in Vietnam was held in Chicago. Amongst those protesting, groups such as the Youth International Party, Students for a Democratic Society and Black Panthers were all involved. Five months after the protest and it’s bloody aftermath, we witness the case against the leaders of these parties, and ‘The Trial of Chicago 7’ portrays their struggle against an unjust injustice system.

Marketed by Netflix as having an outstanding ensemble cast, and being both written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter behind some of the greatest-written films of the last decade, such as ‘Moneyball’ and ‘The Social Network,’ it’s easy to see the appeal of a film like this from the audience’s perspective. However, the deeper you dive into the story that’s on show here, the greater you can see parallels being made between the injustices of 1960’s America and our modern society, and ultimately this idea becomes one of the most important elements of the film.

It’s no secret that there’s a lot less films in consideration at awards shows for 2020 releases, and there’s been talk of nominations for members of the films cast, such as Eddie Redmayne in the position of Lead Actor. To give credit where it’s due, Redmayne’s performance both vocally and physically was impressive, with his interpretation of the character feeling entirely natural, despite it being a contrast to his regular persona. Within the context of the film however, the story never seemed to spend enough time developing his character to where it appeared to be a lead role. Towards the latter end of the film there are conflicts that he must overcome, but until that point, the film truly does seem like a portrayal of an equal ensemble cast. In fact, I would say that there’s a fair argument to make that Yayha Abdul Mateen II gave perhaps the most impressive and important performance of the film. In recent years he has only gone from success to greater success, and I imagine that in years to come he will be a very big name within the industry. The use of an ensemble cast is definitely not a bad thing however, as each member of the ‘Chicago 7’ and their defence team bring something fresh and exciting to the table. Narratively, they progress the story seamlessly through their relationships with one another and their actions inside and outside of the courtroom, ultimately making it a very entertaining watch. 

In terms of the film’s cinematography and structure, it doesn’t really add anything new or exciting, but it can’t be denied that even despite the heavy issues at hand, the story flows excellently and at no point did I feel uninterested in the verbal conflict that was fought within the courtroom. Whilst Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue within this particular film can often feel unnaturally overdramatic through its use of statistics, quotes and overall timing, there is an undoubtable rhythm to his work that he himself attributes to his time spent watching theatre as a child. He states that “even though I didn’t understand what was happening on stage I loved the sound of dialogue, it sounded like music to me and I wanted to imitate that.”

Despite the occasional cheesy line of dialogue, ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ is an entertaining watch with a strong, real-life story behind it, and I would recommend the film to anyone scrolling through Netflix, unsure what to put on during this second lockdown.

Honest Thief – Review

Rating: 12A
Cast: Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney, Jeffrey Dovowan. Anthony Ramos and Robert Patrick
Directed by Mark Williams
Written by Steve Allrich and Mark Williams
Length: 99mins

Liam Neeson explodes back onto our screens in brand new release ‘Honest Thief’ just in time for cinemas, bringing the hope many movie theatres need to pull audiences in while the industry faces potential collapse amidst the shockwaves of Covid:19. Neeson stars as Tom, the honest thief of the title, also known – much to his irritation – as the In-and-Out Bandit. Tom’s late-in-life bank-robbing career has bagged him $9million, but upon meeting Annie (Kate Walsh) decides that an honest, simple life might be worth more than the money he’d acquired.

Built around a solid idea, a master criminal choosing to hand himself in, Honest Thief begins by spending time on it’s characters, giving the roles a chance to develop which is a rarity in most contemporary action movies. It’s nice to see how the key relationship of the story starts and watch as the relationship develops, but also to get a glimpse into the lives of the peripheral characters without dedicating the whole plot to characterisation. It’s clever, subtle work of Mark Williams and Steve Allrich to bulk out the story and allowing the audience to empathise with characters that they might not had the time not been taken to include these moments in the script.

Most audiences will know exactly what they’re going to when the sit down to watch Honest Thief. Liam Neeson almost has his own ‘brand’ of films – very similar to some of his earlier movies like Taken; you know that his work is reliable, if perhaps a little predicable. Despite the similar narrative to some of his earlier works, credit has to be given – he’s 68 years of age and is still spitting out these brilliantly entertaining films with as must gusto as he did 10 years ago.

What I really enjoyed about this film is the themes surrounding guilt and personal responsibility woven into the plot. Again, it’s subtle and if you are looking for a steady action film without having to think about it you can happily enjoy the film for what it is. But it’s nice that it carries some deeper themes as well for the viewers who enjoy looking into the plot a little more. All in all it’s just a steady watch, as previously mentioned its a real treat for any cinemas that are able to open to be able to show a film with such a prestigious name carrying the feature. I urge you to support your local cinemas if they’re open; if this film is showing and you enjoy a solid action film then it will definitely be up your street.

Saint Maud – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle, Lily Knight and Lily Frazer
Directed by Rose Glass
Written by Rose Glass
Length: 84 mins

With Halloween only a couple of weeks away, it seems only right to shed some light on another great horror. ‘Saint Maud’ may deliver the most exciting thrills that you’ll see in the cinema this year, even with the re-release of classic horrors being so prominent at the moment. After a recent conversion to Christianity, and a new job as the nurse of a terminally ill dancer who fell from grace, Maud looks to start a fresh life. However, her past isn’t as far behind her as she may think, and hints of previous experiences begin to break through the cracks of her recently-formed pristine persona. 

With a fairly short runtime of just around eighty minutes, ‘Saint Maud’ uses simplicity to it’s advantage and focuses mainly on the relationship between Maud and her patient, Amanda. As a result of this, the intricacies that develop between the two allows the audience to read into every emotion that’s on display within their scenes, meaning we’re able to judge for ourselves who we believe is in the right or wrong. This feels like a breath of fresh air in the horror genre, where previously characters were often surface level reflections of the audience’s terror. This idea has become more prominent in recent years through the mother-son relationship of ‘Hereditary’ or the commentary of masculinity in ‘The Lighthouse.’ It could even be argued that within the film, the horror and thrill takes a backseat to the dramatic tension between these characters, with ‘Saint Maud’ becoming a drama focusing around obsession and envy. 

However, to glaze over the horrors hidden within this film would be a complete injustice, as ‘Saint Maud’ delivers one of the most thrilling narratives this year. Visually, the familiarity of the run-down and worn out seaside town provides iconography that we can all relate to, which creates an even more unsettling layer to the horror, as it feels as if it takes place in an area of the world not too dissimilar to our own. Similarly, the relationships between the characters shown on-screen feels very familiar. A chat with a stranger on a bench or popping round to see an old friend delivers instantly recognisable elements to the scene that makes you only fear more for the characters, as you are able to put yourself in the shoes of these characters. 

Horror is often paired with a fear of the unknown, which is a main reason why many horror films find their footing in a subject or idea that many people are unfamiliar with or uncertain about. For this reason, religions, cults and festivals are often the centerpoint for these sorts of films, from classics of the genre such as 1968’s ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ or 1973’s ‘Wicker Man’ to more modern examples like ‘Midsommar’ (2019) and ‘The VVitch’ (2015). ‘Saint Maud’ continues this theme and incorporates the ideology and imagery of Christianity to create its thrill, which of course utilises very extreme perceptions of the religion, but only to explore more fundamental questions surrounding faith and belief that many people can relate to. 

‘Saint Maud’ definitely stands out from the crowd within its genre through its brilliant performances, beautiful cinematography and intriguing plot, and so I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking to enjoy an interesting horror in the run-up to Halloween, as well as supporting the arts and their local cinema.

Enola Holmes – Review

Rating: 12
Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter and Lewis Partridge.
Directed by Harry Bradbeer
Written by Jack Thorne (Screenplay) and Nancy Springer (book)
Length: 123mins

Enola Holmes is Sherlock’s little-known rebellious younger sister, invented in 2006 by author Nancy Springer. Played by the young force that is Millie Bobby Brown, Enola has grown up in the countryside with her mother, Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), homeschooled in science, literature and martial arts. But when Eudoria disappears, Enola sets about finding her mother (with the assistance of certain clues) and stumbles into a grand plot which asks our lead to use the skills that she’s developed throughout her childhood; a task challenging enough without her older brothers, both Sherlock and Mycroft, returning home and taking charge. Sherlock being somewhat sympathetic and perhaps amused by his young sibling, while Mycroft insists that she should be a young lady and immediately enrols her in a stuffy boarding school run by a Dickensian headmistress (Fiona Shaw). All of this coincides with a conspiracy to kidnap a young aristocrat and the fight for women’s rights…

Jack Thorne has adapted the first volume in Springers award-winning series of books to create this film for Netflix and there’s a whole lot to take in, arguably too much. This story would have perhaps been better suited to a mini-series but I’m not sure they would have secured their cast had it not been intended for a feature length production. Emmy winner Harry Bradbeer brings an infectious energy to the story by having Enola break the fourth wall from the beginning with amusingly self-aware asides, a choice that suits the film and character but was potentially overused.

Millie Bobby Brown has a nice, easygoing way with the material, cheekily outpacing her famous brother Sherlock played by the brilliant Henry Cavill who presents a totally fresh take on the famous detective. There’s a really nice balance of having Sherlock as a presence that pops up throughout the film without taking any of the shine away from Enola which is enhanced by the steely grit and determination her character. Sam Claflin’s Mycoft is a somewhat cartoonish character who literally gets a moustache to twirl as he snootily attempts to put his family’s affairs in order.

Enola Holmes is a really easy watch, it’s one of the best family films I’ve seen in a while. It’s fast paced, busy and has some amusing moments. Whilst still full of that famous Holmes problem solving, it highlights women suffrage, the importance of fighting for what you believe in and using your voice. It’s not a film that will change your world, but it’s a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours and escape reality for a short time.

It Follows – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Maika Monroe, Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Daniel Zovatto, Keir Gilchrist and Jake Weary
Directed by David Robert Mitchell
Written by David Robert Mitchell
Length: 101mins

All too often, horror films can be labeled as simply another cheap thrill that’s saved for a night in with your friends that doesn’t require too much attention, but in recent years there seems to have been a resurgence of original ideas within the genre, revitalising the industry and developing a greater respect for the work that goes into these films. 

In 2014, director David Robert Mitchell released his first mainstream film, ‘It Follows.’ Much like many other films within the horror genre, the overused tropes of teenage friend groups and their sex-obsessed motivations are present within the film, but the director turns these attitudes into intriguing plot devices. The threat from the monster of the film is spread through sexual intercourse, and can only be escaped by passing the ‘disease’ onto the next person. As a result of this, the sexual intrigue that used to play as light relief in classic horrors such as ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Friday the 13th’ instead becomes the catalyst for the threat of the film. After young adult Maika Monroe (Jay Height) becomes the latest victim in a chain of recipients, she must either run or face up to the monster that incessantly follows her, even when those around her are unable to see the threat. 

Although often a characteristic that is parodied often within the horror genre, the threat faced by a monster that can only walk at a slow pace towards you seems almost laughable at first, but the way in which this idea is presented within ‘It Follows’ feels fresh and menacing. Constantly sweeping the background of any scene for a creature that is walking directly towards the film’s lead, the audience begins to understand just how unsettling this threat is, and the idea that it will never stop adds brilliantly to the tension of the film. The way in which the antagonist hunts its victims benefits greatly from both the score and the cinematography also. The camera patiently turns effortlessly to follow the action of each scene, which often contrasts with the audiences desire to immediately see the threat that’s being faced, especially when the loud blarings of the 80’s inspired synths filling the score indicate oncoming danger. 

The greatest horror films will generally have a deeper message than just unrelenting violence or jump scares, whether that be the recent popularity of cultural ritualism within Ari Aster’s ‘Hereditary’ and ‘Midsommar,’ or the anti-consumerist messages upheld in George A. Romero’s classics like ‘Night of the Living Dead. In the case of ‘It Follows,’ the sexually-transmitted basis for the spread of the film’s threat feels like an important commentary on the horrors of unprotected sex. The idea that just one interaction with a stranger after only a few dates can change your life seems appropriate for a world filled with online dating and instant gratification. Furthermore, the actions of the male characters also seem interesting, with their desire to sleep with the main character not wavering even when they know that she’s haunted by a monster that came from her very own sexual experiences. This could perhaps be read as an exploration into the role of toxic masculinity and the seemingly unrelenting desire for sexual fulfilment that plays a large role in many people’s lives. 

Given that Halloween is coming up soon, now seems as good a time as any to begin delving once again into the world of horror, and if that’s the case then I would highly recommend you place ‘It Follows’ at the top of your list, but only if you fancy looking over your shoulders for days after.

Brooklyn – Review

Rating: 12a Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cogen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters Directed by John Crowley Written by Nick Hornby and Colm Tóibín (Novel) Length: 117mins

John Crowley’s Brooklyn tells the story of a young Irish girl, Eilis (Ronan) who finds herself moving to New York to make something of herself; a timid girl thrown into the brash new world of post-War America. While sad to leave her mother and sister behind, they insist she escape her poor prospects in County Wexford and fight for something more. Whilst inevitably she struggles to fit in, Eilis finds her feet when Tony Fiorello (Cogan) asks her to dance, but when weddings and funerals call her back to Ireland, Eilis’s heart starts skipping to a more familiar beat when the charming Jim Farrell catches her eye and has her questioning what she wants from her future.

Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s classic leaving-home story focuses sensitively on Eilis’ vulnerability and conflict. Whilst, as you would expect, the film doesn’t include nearly as much detail as the novel, Hornby manages to extract the heart of the book and presents a real character driven story that allows the audience to travel the journey alongside Eilis. The film carries a deceptively low-key charm that appears to be very deliberate, both in dialogue, subtext and direction.

Whilst aesthetically brilliant, Brooklyn wouldn’t be the film it is without it’s star studded cast. Saoirse Ronan is outstanding. With her timeless appearance and flawless ability to perform with perfect nuanced gesture and expression she brings Eilis to life, this film can only add to the widely considered opinion that Ronan is one of the most compelling screen presences of her generation. Whilst Ronan carries the film, the supporting cast of Cogan and Gleeson give strong performances as Tony and Jim. Throw in Julie Walters portraying Eilis’s matriarchal landlady and Jim Broadbent as the unwavering Father Flood, it’s unsurprising that Brooklyn was a regular nominee throughout the awards season of 2016.

Contemporary audiences may have to recalibrate their reactions to appreciate John Crowley’s brilliant work in this film but for those who enjoy a tale with a true classic feel I highly recommend this watch. It’s restrained but unashamedly romantic which is achieved with a beautifully subtle, old fashioned elegance that this coming of age tale deserves. Brooklyn evokes the sense of being torn between time, place and identity. In Ireland, Eilis is a daughter with a history; in America she is a woman with a future. This film has the power to elicit emotion from it’s audiences, provoking the audience to question what they might do in Eilis’s shoes.

The Devil All the Time – Review

Rating: 18
Cast: Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan and Eliza Scanlen
Directed by Antonio Campos
Written by Donald Ray Pollock (Novel), Antonio Campos and Paulo Campos
Length: 138mins

Once again, Netflix have delivered another fan favourite with their latest release, ‘The Devil All the Time.’ Pitching massively popular actors and actresses such as Tom Holland, Eliza Scanlen and Robert Pattinson against each other, as well as solidifying the cast with more experienced actors such as Jason Clarke and Riley Keough, the film delivers an intriguing story that’s fleshed out by the diverse range of performers.

From the title to almost every scene within the story, it’s very clear that ‘The Devil All the Time’ is deeply interested in the role that Christianity plays in everyday lives, and how some can become corrupted by their belief. You’d struggle to find any character that you could label as ‘morally good’ within the film, but ‘The Devil All the Time’ definitely utilises the influence of faith over a person to explore just how manipulative a character can become. By setting the story during a period of American culture – particularly in the South – where Christianity was so popular, there are almost no characters who ever question the actions of the church. This particular idea is often what draws the most amount of intrigue to a scene, with characters being seemingly free to interpret the word of the bible to whatever suits them best. As a result of this, the story becomes an allegorical reflection of the way that those with power almost always maintain their hold over others, with the rest remaining inconsequential, no matter the form that such power takes. 

It’s undeniable that the film has an interesting story to work from, with the interwoven characters and settings allowing for a rich context for the potential story’s basis. However, the actual execution of such a layout feels as if it falls short. Despite the main plot points of the story appearing to play out not so far from one another, the film fails to create a strong connection between locations and events, and ultimately just leaves the viewer to watch places come and go as each section of the plot plays out. 

One of the greatest issues I found with the film is the constant use of narration throughout. Whilst it’s a nice idea to allow the author of the source novel to take up of the role of the omniscient spectator, the incessant inclusion of their comments often would take away any form of ambiguity or intrigue from a scene, with the characters intentions and emotions being explicitly laid out before the viewer. A traditional-style story such as ‘The Devil All the Time’ definitely suits some narration, but perhaps one that isn’t as intrusive and frequent as the one used within the film. 

‘The Devil All the Time’ is definitely a film worth seeing, and it’s great to see that larger corporations are constantly working towards releasing new and original content in collaboration with interesting creators such as Antonio Campos, especially when it looks as if we might be becoming even more reliant on these streaming services once again in the coming months.

Babyteeth – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Eliza Scanlen, Ben Mendelsohn, Essie Davis and Toby Wallace
Directed by Shannon Murphy
Written by Rita Kalnejais
Length: 118mins

After the rise of A24 in recent years, and their clear success with beautifully shot coming-of-age stories that follow the lives of small town, but interesting characters, ‘Babyteeth’ takes note of such a formula and re-interprets it as something entirely different. Following the story of a young girl in the throes of chemotherapy, her fascination with a local, small-time drug dealer causes her parents to soon worry about how she’s spending her potential last days.

Led by recent star Eliza Scanlen, who’s found success in the last few years from the role of Amy March in Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation of ‘Little Women,’ as well as 2018’s ‘Sharp Objects’ mini-series – a thrilling drama that investigates the murders of two young girls. Despite only appearing in a few feature films, Scanlen fulfills the starring role of Milla effortlessly, and her portrayal of a young person plagued by uncertainty about her own future is nothing short of compelling. Her actions are at once both confident and full of doubt, subtly demonstrating to the viewer her desperation for some sort of certainty within her life – a certainty that no one around her can provide. This sort of characteristic is perhaps best personified in the drug dealer that she befriends – Moses. The unpredictability of his nature fulfills the need for both rebellion and care that Milla seeks from her life at that time, and once again Toby Wallace’s performance as such a chaotic character is brilliant, working excellently in line with the prescribed drug-fuelled world that surrounds Milla. Their relationship is never explicitly laid out to the viewer, and as a result, you’re drawn further into the story, and further into the experiences of these two young people.

Thematically, the film covers a wide range of topics, from drug abuse, physical and mental health and the importance of clear relationships within a family. But once again, ‘Babyteeth’ never lays out these issues in easily-digestible chunks for the viewer. Like the title connotes, the characters can only work their way through these issues a small amount at a time, and the way in which these things are broken down are all too often not how it may first appear. The narrative elements of the story rely almost entirely on the actions of the characters, and their ever-changing moods and perceptions of one another cause the film to always have something interesting to welcome into the story. In fact, the complete lack of hospital visits or therapy sessions that so often fill out films with a similar illness-based origin allows the story to explore the overall experience of a loved one battling cancer, rather than the direct side-effects of the disease on a certain character. For this reason, the film never feels like its bound to the storyline that a short description of the narrative would provide, and the characters often stray into territory that feels like a distraction from the overall arc of the film, but works completely naturally when looking into the relationship of two young people.

For a debut feature film, ‘Babyteeth’ shows that director Shannon Murphy is an exciting new voice in the world of film, and her approach to a subject is often not as simple as it may first appear. A clear focus on the characters that inhabit the world of her films, as well as the way in which each relationship is presented shows us that Murphy has a genuine interest in how the story is interpreted by the audience.