A kid having to grow up alone isn’t the usual way of life, but what if one parent dies and the other has been absent for years? Then as a kid, you don’t have much choice. You either go to a foster home or decide you’re old enough to try it alone. In Scrapper, the debut movie of writer/director Charlotte Regan, the 12-year-old Georgie (Lola Campbell) chooses that latter option, resulting in a heartbreaking, sad, but also hopeful and fun film with standout performances.
No child should have to grow up alone
Georgie (Campbell) lives alone in a flat on the outskirts of London. Her mother just died from an undescribed disease, and it’s clear that Georgie is still grieving, which is completely understandable. Her estranged father Jason (Harris Dickinson) has been MIA for almost her entire life, so Georgie has no choice but to take care of herself. Instead of attending school, she and her friend Ali (Alin Uzun) spend their time stealing and selling bikes to get cash. Georgie is determined and resourceful as she’s been misleading the social services with the help of a local shop owner, a few audio recordings and an ‘uncle’ named Winston Churchill. Georgie knows this situation is unsustainable. To find some peace, quiet and hope, she goes into a room to lie in front of a scrap pile (hence the title).
One day her life is changed completely when Jason comes leaping through her garden one day. He has heard about what happened to her mother and wants to help Georgie. However, there’s a reason why he hasn’t been part of her life. Jason still hasn’t come to terms with growing up and becoming a father, so how do you expect someone like him to care for a young girl already on the wrong path? Will they be able to reconnect and save themselves?
Stunning performances by the newcomers!
While this plotline about the estranged father-daughter relationship feels very familiar due to Aftersun, released last year, Scrapper still has a lot of uniqueness to offer. The main reason why you should see this movie is the stunning standout performance by newcomer Campbell. During our interview with Regan, she mentioned that she was the perfect Georgie right from the start of Campbell’s audition, and we certainly agree with her. Campbell perfectly balances Georgie’s rough-tough side and her vulnerability, and her comedic timing is top-notch. While she shares the screen with Dickinson, she could have easily carried this film herself through the end.
Dickinson, who’s on a roll after releasing Triangle of Sadness, See How They Run, and Where The Crawdads Sing all last year, is perfect as Jason. He gives his character the mysterious vibe he needs (Georgie initially thought that her father was clearly out for something) but also shows us that no matter how long you’ve been out of each other’s lives, the father-daughter connection is never completely broken. The chemistry between Campbell and Dickinson spat off the screen, making the relationship between Georgie and her father feels very authentic. We also have to congratulate Uzun on his stunning debut performance as the loyal friend who’s certainly not immune to Georgie’s wit and mischief.
Smooth editing and soft cinematography with a few flaws
Visual-wise, Regan uses many different aspects and techniques. She mainly relies on the ‘traditional’ way of filming a drama. Long, emotional scenes that have no background score whatsoever. The main focus is the characters and their feelings. To make sure that the movie doesn’t become monotone, she also decides to include the comedic testimonials of people in Georgie’s life—think of her teacher, school enemies, and social workers – about her grieving process and way of living. Regan also speeds up some scenes for dramatic effects and sometimes swaps the smooth editing for jagged cuts. While those aspects sometimes feel a bit out of place, the overall visuals perfectly fit the storyline. The score mainly consists of hip-hop and rap music, giving this movie that ‘in the hood’ vibe.
A heartbreaking movie about grief, maturation and family
Despite some distracting visual choices, Scrapper stands extremely strong throughout its 84 minutes runtime. The heartbreaking story of grief, maturation, (dis)trust and family comes to life stunningly thanks to the great sense of humour, outstanding performances and excellent chemistry.
Rating: (4 / 5)
Scrapper is screened on the 7th of July during the Sundance Film Festival London and has a nationwide release on the 25th of August.