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“Milla”: the astonishing initiatory story of an Australian teenager

Like any youth story, Milla, the first feature film by Australian Shannon Murphy, is an initiatory story. But this initiation will prove to be more that of the parents than of their daughter, with the discovery of a first love which will upset the family unit. A lesson in tolerance and against prejudice, to be seen from Wednesday July 28.

The only daughter of a good family, Milla does not fit the mold. The complacency of her parents disappoints her, and her corseted college does not offer her any prospects, except that of having good grades. When she meets Moses, everything changes. She falls in love with this third-rate marlou who, at best, exploits her. She will transform it and impose it on her parents, completely independently.

As is often the case with Australian films, Milla think outside the box. In the tone of a column, Shannon Murphy takes her time. If the setting up of the frame spreads out a bit too much before the plot and tone of the film sets in, once launched, it takes off. From maneuver to maneuver to achieve his ends, the complex personality of his anti-heroine is revealed. Intelligent and sure of herself, Milla reels Moses who was only reeling him, and she “unwinds” her parents from their prejudices.

The portrait of a teenage girl and the family subject of the film are reminiscent of Family Life (1971) by Ken Loach. But Milla does not sink into madness, as with the English director. She’s leading the way, and she’ll go so far as to spin her parents and her boyfriend around. The chronicle form is also close to the cinema of Ken Loach, and the director claims to be John Cassavetes (A woman under the influence) – the most European of American directors -, and Danish director Lars von Trier (Breaking the Waves).

Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace, Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis in "Milla" by Shannon Murphy (2021).  (LISA TOMASETTI / MOMENTO)

But there is this madness, all Australian, which makes that Milla, the character like the film, takes a tangent. Despite its benchmark filmmakers, there is nothing European about it. We think of Picnic at Hanging Rock (1977) which recounted the decadence of a highly rated institute for young girls in Australia, following an accident. Like in Peter Weir’s movie, Milla shows the reverse side of a situation taken for granted. As if the “savage” behavior of the young girl, in relation to her social class, overlapped with the “savagery” of the original Australian territory which rose to the surface. An explosive sentimental education.

Poster of "Milla" by Shannon Murphy (2021).  (MOMENTO)

Kind : Drama
Director : Shannon murphy
Actors : Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace, Essie Davis
Country : Australia
Duration : 1h58
Exit : July 28, 2021
Distributer : Momento

Synopsis : Milla is not a teenager like the others and when she falls in love for the first time, it is all her life and that of those around her that are turned upside down.

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