Scrapper is the bittersweet British indie feature that marks writer-director Charlotte Regan’s cinematic debut. It combines bleak realism with a touch of magic and captures the perspective of a child who is savvy beyond her years and who, out of necessity, is also cynical and occasionally mean. Deep within, however, the protagonist nurtures a secret world of fantasy and hope.
Since her mother’s recent and untimely death, 12-year-old Georgie (Lola Campbell) has been living alone in their shabby council house. The girl tricks authorities who are concerned for her welfare by concealing her highly vulnerable living arrangement in order to have independence. She gets by thanks to some criminal activity involving theft, with the occasional assistance of her neighbour and only friend Ali (Alin Uzun).
Georgie’s life gets even more complicated when her estranged and immature father Jason (Harris Dickinson) turns up at her door. In spite of her best efforts to keep him out of the house, the two must confront each other and try to make sense of their situation together. Mistrust and resentment take centre stage in the unfolding of their newfound acquaintance, but the realisation of being similar in many ways helps establish a connection of sorts.
The film moves back and forth from harsh reality to quirky asides, such as having minor characters comment on Georgie’s story as they face the camera in documentary style. The plot isn’t so original or particularly transporting in itself, but Dickinson (who recently appeared in the Oscar-nominated Triangle of Sadness) and young Campbell are compelling in their roles and create something powerful together.
Some have compared the film to Aftersun due to its father-daughter focus, but the mood is very different here and the tone is tragicomic. In spite of the occasional lack of fluidity in the narrative style, Scrapper merges magic and social realism in a way that is overall effective and heartwarming.
Scrapper is released in select cinemas on 25th August 2023.
Watch the trailer for Scrapper here: