Reviewed by: Levan Tskhovrebadze

"This heartwarming dramedy incorporates multiple cinematic tropes, drawing from contemporary indie cinema, depression-era comedies, family dramas, and Italian neorealism." | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Charlotte Regan's debut feature is a delicately crafted and vibrant portrayal of the precarious life of 12-year-old Georgie (Lola Campbell). Returning from Ibiza, her father, Jason (Harris Dickinson), aims to make a fresh start with his daughter after the passing of her mother. The neighborhood they inhabit shines in flamboyant tones with vivid cyan, brassy, and lavender-hued houses on the impoverished fringes of eastern England, creating a visual contrast against the narrative.

The recipient of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic category at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Scrapper achieves an interactive quality by portraying supporting characters disparaging Georgie directly in front of the camera. This enhances the whimsical essence of the picture. Georgie, living on her own, pals up with Ali (Alin Uzun) and engages in bicycle theft. Her peers harbour resentment towards her, and both school and social services remain indifferent to her existence until her father re-enters her life to untangle the mess.

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The emergence of Jason is as confusing and unexpected for the audience as it is for Georgie, as he climbs over the fence to enter and promptly reveals his fatherhood. While expressing an urge to reconnect with his daughter, his motivation initially remains unclear. Jason's 2000s Eminem hairstyle adds an element of untrustworthiness, yet the colour seamlessly matches the yellow hue of the overall picture, offering the audience a glimmer of hope. Jason, at one point, threatens Georgie with social services, adding stress to her life. However, Dickinson's character befriends her only friend, Ali, and gradually they develop a special bond, transforming the kitchen-sink realism into a comforting father-daughter story.

This heartwarming dramedy incorporates multiple cinematic tropes, drawing from contemporary indie cinema, depression-era comedies, family dramas, and Italian neorealism. The relationship between the immature 30-year-old, charming Dickinson, and the early-matured Campbell may evoke memories of Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio from Charlotte Wells' 2022 hit Aftersun. The bicycle thefts with the father echo the Italian classic Bicycle Thieves (1948) by Vittorio de Sica, while the portrayal of children around pastel-painted houses in a marginal neighborhood may remind viewers of Sean Baker's The Florida Project (2017).

Georgie's sense of neglect prevents her from trusting Jason, but Dickinson's character gains her trust through his naive actions, such as attempting to steal her dislodged tooth and placing money under her pillow, causing Georgie confusion as she's never heard about the tooth fairy. The audience, much like Georgie, is perplexed by Jason's behavior, as Charlotte Regan skillfully encourages spectators to empathize entirely with the 12-year-old protagonist. The dreamy visuals captured by DoP Molly Manning Walker exclusively manifest the mindset of Georgie, a 12-year-old grown-up who continues to live in a fantasy world.

Reviewed on: 24 Nov 2023
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Georgie is a dreamy 12-year-old girl who lives happily alone in her London flat, filling it with magic. Out of nowhere, her estranged father turns up and forces her to confront reality.
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Jeremy Mathews ***

Director: Charlotte Regan

Writer: Charlotte Regan

Starring: Harris Dickinson, Lola Campbell, Alin Uzun, Ambreen Razia, Olivia Brady, Aylin Tezel

Year: 2023

Runtime: 84 minutes

Country: UK

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