Film Review: Scrapper (Sundance 2023) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Studio: Charades
Director: Charlotte Regan

Feb 01, 2023 Web Exclusive
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Charlotte Regan’s Scrapper is a formulaic yet effective story about a father’s and daughter’s quest to understand one another despite their stubborn natures.

The film opens by introducing audiences to Georgie (Lola Campbell), a resourceful 12-year-old living alone after the recent death of her mother. Despite her age, Georgie controls all aspects of her life. To make money, she steals bikes with her best friend, Ali (Alin Uzun). To stay off social services’ radar, she uses one of her friend’s voice memos to simulate the voice of her uncle, Winston Churchill. She even refers to a poster of the five stages of grief to track how she is coping with her mother’s passing. Her actions make one fact clear: if Georgie can’t have her mother, she doesn’t need anyone else.

Georgie’s lifestyle quickly halts when her father, Jason (Harris Dickinson), climbs over her backyard fence and, as such, back into her life. With no idea why he’s suddenly returned after abandoning her and her mother 12 years prior, Georgie is naturally reluctant to accept him into her life. But since Jason won’t budge, even offering to help with Georgie’s routine, she has no choice but to keep him in her life. As they spend more time together, Georgie begins to warm up to his presence, wondering if she does need someone in her life after all.

As its plot suggests, Scrapper is a simple film. With an 84-minute runtime, the film wastes no time acquainting audiences with Georgie’s habits, establishing her character in a pronounced manner. Once Jason enters the story, the film takes a relatively stereotypical approach to bring the estranged father and daughter closer to one another. As such, the narrative beats are a little too familiar, and one can easily guess where the story will eventually go, even from the film’s first moments.

Even if the film’s premise isn’t novel, Regan still knows how to make the story emotional and heartwarming. The key is in the characters. Even though they may appear different, especially during the film’s first half, Jason and Georgie are extremely similar. They both project toughness to cover up their emotions and desire to have a family. With this knowledge, it becomes difficult not to root for them as the film moves forward, bringing the characters closer to one another through entertaining and humor-filled scenarios. While some narrative beats don’t work, they are quickly overshadowed by how quickly and authentically Georgie’s and Jason’s friendship develops.

While many of Scrapper’s successes are attributable to its dynamic screenplay, the performances truly make the film. Campbell, in her first role, completely shines, commanding the screen from the film’s opening scene and not relinquishing control until the credits roll. Dickinson matches her energy, and the two’s chemistry successfully brings their characters and their connection to life.

Author rating: 7/10

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