tue 27/02/2024

Scrapper review - home alone, but then Dad turns up | reviews, news & interviews

Scrapper review - home alone, but then Dad turns up

Scrapper review - home alone, but then Dad turns up

Director Charlotte Regan makes a promising debut with this tale of a motherless girl and her estranged father

Summer in the city: Lola Campbell as Georgie with her best friend Ali (Alin Uzun)l

It’s the summer holidays, and though Georgie (Lola Campbell) is only 12, she’s managing to keep her council house looking just the way her mum liked it. There may be a few spiders hanging around but they have names and personalities and there’s food in the cupboard, even if it’s been paid for from the proceeds of selling the bikes Georgie has stolen.  

Though her mother died recently, social services aren’t too fussed as they believe her uncle is looking after her. They don’t think it’s odd that he’s called Winston Churchill, or that when they phone to check up, he answers their questions with cheery disjointed answers. Georgie’s worked out the kind of reassuring remarks adults like to hear and has got the bloke behind the counter at the corner shop to record some phrases on her phone.  

She’s enterprising and she’s not alone – her best friend Ali (Alin Uzun) lives on the same estate and stands lookout when she’s nicking bikes. Georgie's coping pretty well even if she does look at old videos of her mum quite a bit. So when a man turns up out of the blue claiming to be her dad, back to make amends for leaving when she was a baby, Georgie is none too welcoming.  But he insists on staying and gradually they work out a way to get along. Harris DickinsonScrapper is a charming piece of filmmaking by a first time director that opens in the UK having already won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. It’s bound to be compared with Aftersun and The Florida Project because it features a hot male lead (Triangle of Sadness's Harris Dickinson, pictured above) as Jason, the errant dad, while Georgie is played by a first-time actor with no stage school training. Campbell, who sports a hearing aid, has a wonderfully natural presence.

As if the overlap with other recent films featuring kids and their estranged parents isn’t too obvious, there’s an overt homage to the daddy of them all. Jason and Georgie walk down a street separately but together, echoing Harry Dean Stanton and Hunter Carson’s first encounter n Paris, Texas. 

But despite the homages, Scrapper deserves to be considered on its own merits as that rare thing, a film made by a working-class director that celebrates life on an estate – by the looks of it, somewhere in London’s East Ham.

This isn’t a misery memoir (despite the dead mum), and it isn’t a Ken Loach diatribe about the hardship of living on benefits. Charlotte Regan, who wrote and directed Scrapper, has a knack with quirky juxtapositions and left field jokes. She has a real warmth in her writing and a gift for getting great performances out of her cast.

Ingeniously filmed and framed by cinematographer Molly Manning Walker, Scrapper is visually inventive and a pleasure on the eye. Sometimes Regan switches tone a little awkwardly – stylised, mock-documentary pieces acted to camera by minor characters are played for laughs, but when Georgie takes out her anger on the local Queen Bee by beating her up, the pain is real.

The ending is perhaps a little too happy and there will be audiences expecting a more moralistic or gritty film who will be critical of the splashy magic realism. But if you’re prepared to suspend that nagging voice, Scrapper is a summertime delight. 

Regan has a real warmth in her writing and a gift for getting great performances

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters