|Worth seeing:||as the most heart-warming and life-affirming film about bereavement and estrangement you're ever likely to see|
|Featuring:||Harris Dickinson, Lola Campbell, Alin Uzun, Ambreen Razia, Asheq Akhtar, Aylin Tezel, Ayobami Oyesanwo, Ayokunle Oyesanwo, Ayooluwa Oyesanwo, Cary Crankson, Carys Bowkett, Freya Bell, Jessica Fostekew, Joshua Frater-Loughlin, Olivia Brady|
|Released:||25th August 2023|
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Georgie (Lola Campbell) is a resourceful 12 year old, who lives with her uncle on a housing estate in East London – at least that’s what she tells everyone, including the social services, who don’t have the resources to check up on her in person.
Since her mother died, she’s actually been living alone, spending most of her time outside school with her only friend, Ali (Alin Uzun), hovering just on the wrong side of criminality.
The unexpected arrival of her estranged father, Jason (Harris Dickinson), throws her carefree existence into doubt; he’s agrees to protect her secret, as long as she allows him into her life.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Charlotte Regan’s debut feature sits comfortably in the canon of the BFI-backed low-budget, low-key dramas of directors including Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsey and the recent Aftersun, by Charlotte Wells, which similarly explores a father-daughter relationship.
While Aftersun explored an already close relationship between a girl and the father who’s still mourning the break-up of his relationship with her mother, Scrapper follows a girl who’s only now meeting her father for the first time, because of the death of her mother.
And while Aftersun is laden with melancholy and regret, Scrapper is – unexpectedly – bursting with levity and positive energy.
Resourceful as she is, it seems unlikely that real-world school and social services staff would enable Georgie to get away with her ruse to stay out of the system, setting Regan’s world just to the side of reality. The occasional input from these adults – speaking directly to camera – are the weaker points of the film, breaking up the narrative flow with caricatures who don’t fit with the driving force of the plot.
This film is firmly about Georgie’s desire to keep out of the way of the authorities – and how she copes when she’s forced to get to know the father she’s never met. Regan deals with her schooling and care perfectly well, without having us to see the relevant professionals pontificating.
Newcomer Lola Campbell lights up the screen as a fast-talking, plucky lass, hiding her vulnerability behind a West Ham top. Harris Dickinson, as the errant father, clearly not ready for the responsibility, is similarly warm and empathetic in an underplayed, naturalistic turn; first breaking into the big time with the Cannes Palme d’Or winning Triangle of Sadness, he’s developing a knack for some interesting fish-out-of-water characters. The two central performances are delightful, warm and authentic.
These are two troubled characters, neither of whom want to be where they are, but who both rise to the occasion out of a necessity to survive.
On one level, it’s a kitchen-sink drama about how a child copes with bereavement and the return of the father she feels abandoned her at birth. But on another, it’s an uplifting, odd-couple comedy that leaves you feeling much better about life.
It’s sweet, but slight and works best when it’s following the narrative and real characters are interacting than when it expands to some of the redundant supporting characters, literally interrupting the action to give their two pennies worth.
Scrapper is without doubt the most uplifting and heart-warming film you are likely ever to see about loss – but while it’s not always entirely convincing, it’s never flippant or patronising and always feels enlightening, suitably profound when it tackles the difficult subjects and emotionally genuine.