15 Aug 23
Harris Dickinson, Lola Campbell, Alin Uzun, Ambreen Razia
It's a cliché of British cinema: any low-budget film set on a council estate must be a gruelling, miserabilist ordeal. So, it's such a joy to discover Scrapper, a heart-warming comedy, bubbling with hope, which delights in rebelling against that unwritten rule.
The saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child", but 12-year-old Georgie (blazing newcomer Lola Campbell) has other ideas. "I can raise myself, thanks" is Georgie's own motto – and that's exactly what she has done, ever since her beloved mum died.
She's kept their council flat spotlessly clean, the sofa cushions placed exactly how Mum placed them, and she's lived entirely alone – seemingly for months – by pretending she lives with her uncle, "Winston Churchill". We won't spoil how she plays the social services system for fools, but it's hilarious.
A neglected yet resourceful tomboy with an immaculate French plait, who lives on an ice cream-coloured council terrace, Georgie is a bit like an Essex version of Pippi Longstocking.
Yet, despite the lovely elements of magical realism that spring up through its social realism cracks (you don't get many jolly talking spiders in a Ken Loach movie), Scrapper isn't a fairy tale.
Georgie pays the bills not from a chest of gold coins but by nicking bikes with her best mate Ali (Alin Uzun) and selling them on to a grumpy woman named Zeph (Ambreen Razia).
Hard as nails and super-resilient, Georgie has convinced herself she's got it all sorted, but when her hapless father, Jason (Harris Dickinson in an amusingly bad 8 Mile haircut), turns up from Ibiza out of the blue, having abandoned her as a baby, she has to confront what's really going on.
Scrapper is being compared with last year's indie smash Aftersun, both incredible British debuts by female directors about father-daughter relationships. Yet Scrapper, which won the World Dramatic top prize at Sundance, is its own, wonderfully idiosyncratic, beautifully crafted creation.
Writer/director Charlotte Regan has long been a rising talent in the music video world. Her 2017 short, Standby, was nominated for a BAFTA and her returning star, Harris Dickinson had appeared in her 2019 short Oats & Barley. With Scrapper she proves she's a fresh new British voice with a unique and stylish vision.
There is a fizzy flavour to this pop-coloured world, whose Greek choruses include a gaggle of pink-clad mean girls and a trio of sharply dressed Black kids on yellow bikes.
For all the flourishes, the reason you fall hard for this story is the relationship between Georgie and her dad.
It's always a treat to watch Harris Dickinson, a mercurial talent who really can excel at anything, from mainstream (The King's
Man) to arthouse (Triangle Of Sadness). Yet remarkable junior newcomer Campbell entirely holds her own alongside him. Their
chemistry is a thing of beauty, as they tentatively find their balance as mirror images of each other: the kid forced to mature too early; the adult still on the run from growing up.
Tonally, that bittersweet mix of lightness with authentic pain is a hugely tricky one to pull off, yet Regan makes it look easy. Scrapper is a dreamy and moving story about family and fresh starts.
This is a comedy that believes life is not so much about chasing rainbows but snatching fistfuls in both hands. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh
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Q&A with Charlotte Regan, Tuesday 22 August at Picturehouse at FACT — Book Now
Q&A with Harris Dickenson and Charlotte Regan, Friday 25 August at Ritzy — Book Now
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