If you thought your first love was an awkward experience, it likely pales in comparison to Babyteeth.
The new film, which premiered to strong reviews at last year's Venice Film Festival, stars Little Women's Eliza Scanlen as Milla, an Australian teenager diagnosed with cancer, who falls head over heels for a twentysomething drug dealer named Moses (Toby Wallace). Though the pair's whirlwind romance greatly unnerves Milla's parents (Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn), it also reinvigorates her lust for life at a tumultuous and bleak time for the family.
"She wants someone who can help her experience the regular emotions that a human can experience in their life, in a short amount of time," Scanlen tells EW of Milla's attraction to Moses. "They're both broken people in their own way, and I think that that binds them together, and they become kind of a force together."
In case you couldn't tell by this point, Babyteeth is neither your typical teen romance nor your typical cancer drama. The film, which marks director Shannon Murphy's feature debut, is infused with a keen dark humor and a quirky sensibility reflecting that of its eccentric and exuberant protagonist, as you can see in the exclusive trailer above. ("He threatened me with a meat prong!" Davis' Anna protests when Milla asks if Moses can stay over.)
"A line that [writer Rita Kalnejais] came up with was 'Babyteeth is a heartbreaking comedy about how good it is not to be dead yet.' I think that really captures the tone," Murphy says." It's really authentic, I feel, to the experience of young people going through that situation."
"It's the perfect depiction of what it's like to live with someone who has an illness, because it's never just dark," adds Scanlen. "When there's a lot of trauma in a family, more often than not, there's humor, and there's dark comedy, because it's the only way to get through it."
IFC Films will release Babyteeth on VOD and in select theaters June 19.