Thanks to its central performances, Charlotte Regan's first feature cracks the endearing formula for a kitchen sink drama with a sprinkle of magical realism
Scrapper puts a joyous spin on working-class stories with a tender father-daughter dramedy that doesn't overstay its welcome. Closing in at 84 minutes, Charlotte Regan's debut is a charming and funny, if not particularly original, tale of meeting in the middle and coming of age. Twelve-year-old Georgie (an impressive Lola Campbell in her first film role) is raising herself after the loss of her mum, living on a pastel estate and getting by by stealing bikes with her friend Ali (Alin Uzun).
Wise beyond her years, Georgie doesn't allow herself to grieve, physically confining her pain to a mysterious room in her yellow house. She's confronted with old and fresh sorrows, however, when her estranged father, Jason (Harris Dickinson), shows up. But Scrapper rejects a bleak social drama narrative, balancing reality with vibrant magical realism.
A tight-knit community, the estate serves as a microcosm shielding the protagonist from all external incursions, from social services to disgruntled teachers, characters we mostly see in mockumentary-style interviews. The film could have benefited from a more focused direction, because these departures from the main narrative, visually and tonally, weigh Scrapper down at times.
The movie's secret weapon, though, is its leading duo: an old soul trapped in a young girl's body and a 30-year-old who's a teen at heart. It's a potentially flammable combination sustained by an effortless chemistry between Campbell and Dickinson. Both breathe warmth into every comedic line, finding levity and hope in the most unexpected places.
Scrapper is released 25 Aug by Picturehouse, certificate 12A