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Movie Reviews

Scrapper ★★★



Director: Charlotte Regan

Cast: Harris Dickinson, Lola Campbell

Released: Sundance Film Festival 2023

Written and directed by newcomer Charlotte Regan, British film Scrapper stars youngster Lola Campbell as Georgie, a 12-year-old girl who lives in London. After the passing of her mum Vicky, she lives on her own while pretending to social workers and school that she is living with her uncle. Her life is quickly turned upside-down with the reappearance of Jason (Harris Dickinson), a man who claims to be her dad.

When we first meet Georgie, it is clear that she can look after herself and doesn’t want pity from anyone. She seems to be able to fool authorities by playing voice recordings over the phone and survives by stealing and selling bike parts with best friend Ali (Alin Uzun). Despite this, she is overly protective of her mum’s belongings and how her home is before she passed. 

Georgie’s independently built bubble promptly bursts when Jason, a man with a bad dye job and a bunch of roses, climbs over her fence. He awkwardly claims to be her dad and resumes a guardianship role – despite being estranged from her for the past 12 years, quickly forming a plot element that immediately creates the tension between Scrapper‘s protagonists and the cliché hurdle that they need to overcome.

Reagan quickly establishes the conflict between Georgie and Jason due to the youngster’s mindset and resentment towards her father, who seems to want to take responsibility yet finds it okay to blackmail her into staying. Although he and other grown-ups try to look out for her, Georgie’s animosity towards everyone feels like she cannot rely on anyone. This explains the need for her to find solace in old videos of her mum or escape into her little world, which she keeps under lock and key – despite its heartbreaking objective. 

Yet despite certain fantastical elements of Georgie’s life, Regan beautifully moulds a bittersweet comedy-drama with tender dialogue between an estranged father and daughter. The filmmaker also makes the most of the down-to-Earth surroundings that aid Georgie’s schemes and enables the focus of the film on her characters rather than the noisiness of central London.

It also explores grief, opening your heart to others, and the need for youngsters to rediscover their childhood, showing that children should have the time to be children and that everyone needs looking after sometimes. These themes give Campbell and Dickinson ample time to work through their characters’ misgivings and build their on-screen chemistry, resulting in some sweet and occasionally funny moments with an improvised pretend conversation at a train station shaping an expectedly heartwarming scene. This is also due to the performances of the cast – while Dickinson continues to diversify performances after Triangle of Sadness, The Souvenir Part II, and The King’s Men, newcomer Campbell brings a quick-witted cheekiness and authenticity to her performance as Georgie. Overall, Scrapper is a sweet and tender debut from Reagan, enabling Dickinson to deliver another solid performance while providing a star-making vehicle for Lola Campbell.

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