In Scrapper, newcomer Lola Campbell gives a revelatory performance as Georgie, a precocious, self-sufficient 12 year-old girl who’s living alone in a London flat after recently losing her mother. It’s clear from the start that she doesn’t need a stinking village to help raise her. She’s doing just fine all by herself, thank you very much. She has child services fooled by pretending she’s living with her fake uncle all the while stealing bikes for scraps to get a few quid with her best bud Ali (Alin Uzun). But no matter how cunning and tough she is on the outside, inside she’s still this little girl missing her mom.
That’s why we’re introduced early on to little magical moments that break up the harsh reality this is set in. They all take place in Georgie’s fantasy world, which is an obvious escape that practically seems necessary after such a devastating loss. Hiding behind such tremendous resilience is insurmountable grief, and she’s going through its stages in absolute defiance.
So one day when Jason (Harris Dickinson), her estranged dad, shows up at her door after living wild and free in Spain – it’s no surprise Georgie would like for him to quickly piss off. Played fabulously by Dickinson, Jason definitely is out of his element in his attempt to be a father after abandoning Georgie and her mother all those years ago. Thinking he can come in and instantly connect with Georgie is crazy. Besides being immature and having no paternal instincts whatsoever, there’s no way Georgie is going to take it easy on him. His failure feels imminent and will surely be out of her life in less than no time. Then again, whether she wants to admit it or not, Georgie is a chip off the old block. And while both certainly have a knack for finding trouble, the off chance of becoming a family living by their own rules always feels within reach.
This wonderful, warm, and witty British dramedy is a fantastic feature debut for writer/director Charlotte Regan. The story is slight and familiar, but remains a distinct, authentic, and lively portrait of the complexities of a father-daughter relationship. And while more could certainly be explored between father, daughter, and mother – what Regan does provide in a swift 84 minutes is enriching and emotionally effective.
Scrapper is an effervescent and tender film mainly built on the magnificent chemistry between Campbell and Dickinson. They are lovely to watch, and it’s during the more sweeter scenes shared between the two that hit the hardest. They serve as genuine glimpses into their willingness to be vulnerable in front of each other. Through the sadness, anger, and uncertainty, Georgie and Jason are survivors of many sorts and are truly meant to be a part of each other’s tangled lives.
Brandon Vick is a member of The Music City Film Critics’ Association and the Southeastern Film Critics Association, the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and the star of The Vick’s Flicks Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.
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