Contributing writer for The Artifice.
Junior Contributor I
Babyteeth and the Subversion of Terminally Ill Tropes
Almost everyone is familiar with the coming of age genre in which a teen is diagnosed with a terminal illness. From the popular adaptation of John Green’s A Fault In Our Stars, to more recent additions such as 5 Feet Apart, this type of film is normally associated with its ability to provoke tears rather than to impart the cinematic experience. Unlike its predecessors however, Babyteeth is simultaneously both moving and cinematic. It is not a movie about death, but rather the pursuit of life.
By avoiding the cliches of its genre, Babyteeth is ultimately able to impact a greater audience. Rather than portray its protagonist as a victim, Milla (Eliza Scanlen) becomes the film’s hero and is able to retain the dignity that her illness threatens. With the film in mind, examine the way that illness is conceived and thought of in today’s society. What shift in thinking has contributed to this change? In your opinion, what is the best way to present terminal illnesses in film?