Harris Dickinson and Lola Campbell in Scrapper

Film Review: Scrapper

Film Reviews

Director: Charlotte Regan

BBC Film and Great Point Media
In Theaters: 09.08

The transition from the carefree innocence of childhood to the responsibility of adulthood works a little differently for each of us, and Scrapper, Grand Jury Prize Winner for International Cinema at Sundance Film Festival 2023, is a touching and funny story about becoming an adult, whether it happens too early in life or far too late.

Georgie (newcomer Lola Campbell) is a 12-year-old girl who has been living alone in her flat in a working-class London suburb since the passing of her mother, telling social workers and her school that she lives with a made up uncle, and they believe this despite the fact that the name she gives for this uncle is Winston Churchill. What little money Georgie has to live off she gets by stealing bicycles alongside her only close friend, Ali (Alin Uzun). One day, her father Jason (Harris Dickinson, Where The Crawdads Sing, Triangle of Sadness), a twenty-something slacker who took off to Spain when she was born, shows up and tells Georgie that he knows she is living alone, and he’ll tell the authorities unless she lets him stay at the flat with her. Georgie isn’t interested in reconciliation, and whether Jason deserves a second chance or not, the two have to learn to live together. As the absentee father and the streetwise daughter adapt to their new circumstances, they begin to realize that they are each other’s best chance at learning how to grow up.

Writer-director Charlotte Regan makes a strong debut, blending goofy humor with emotional drama and establishing herself as a skilled actor’s director. While the premise may seem far fetched, it’s sadly plausible for a low-income neighborhood. Regan focuses primarily on the light comedy and feel-good aspects of the story, including just enough exploration of the harsh realities of life to give the film sincere and honest dramatic weight. Scrapper is often quite funny, and the comedy comes from cute, little character moments such as Jason teaching Georgie a game he used to play with her mother where they watch strangers at the train station and make up stories and guess what they are talking about. As this unlikely duo improvises a dramatic argument between a couple and gets so carried away that they forget to do it quietly, I was laughing out loud and utterly in love with both of them.

Campbell’s endearing and surprisingly nuanced performance is pure gold, and this is her film all the way. She demonstrates an impeccable sense of comic timing, aided by Regan’s skilled direction, and handles the dramatic elements with maturity and honesty. Dickinson is at his most likable here, and the interplay between the two actors is pitch perfect and makes the movie soar. By the final scene, I cared more about Georgie and Jason than I do about approximately 20% of the people I’m close to in real life.

Scrapper is a smaller release that isn’t getting the fanfare of something like The Nun II, and it’s exactly the kind of buried treasure that makes arthouse theaters so important. Like Georgie herself, Scrapper highly deserves attention and love—this is a movie that you simply don’t want to miss out on. –Patrick Gibbs

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