Georgie (Lola Campbell) is a highly independent and ingenuitious 12-year-old. Tragically, she has no choice but not to be. Her mother, Vicky (Olivia Brady), died of cancer, and somehow, Georgie occupied their apartment alone. Thus, writer-director Charlotte Regan’s dramedy, Scrapper begins with the audience gaining a breadth of Georgie’s daily routine, which includes stealing bikes in Mcguyver-like-fashion with her lone friend Ali (Alin Uzun) and selling them to a local bike dealer for money. Then there’s the matter of getting various parents and school board members off her case – Regan elects to break the fourth wall where multiple parts of the community give their assessment of Georgie.
The popular girls wouldn’t stand to try to hang out with her, and the teachers think she’s weird, but perhaps worried about the grieving process of losing her mother. Mostly, Georgie has been left to her own devices – may be hard to believe on the surface, but somewhat understandable once you peer through the conventional nature Scrapper brings to the table. One day, Georgie’s estranged father, Jason (Harris Dickinson), comes to the apartment to try to bond with the daughter he’s never previously met.
As you can imagine, things are a bit contentious between the two. Jason tries to exert what he feels is a fatherly voice to Georgie, but she’s not having it. Besides Ali, she’s used to talking to the collection of spiders kept alive around the house (at points, even with their own dialogue). If you’ve watched previous father-daughter stories of this nature, the path to where this story is going is clear. Although young, Jason will have to atone for his previous Ibiza leaving ways and find a way to connect with Georgie. Although it's a lot to ask from a 12-year-old, perhaps Georgie can find a way to allow him to be there for her slowly.
Scrapper differentiates itself through the performances of Campbell and Dickinson – especially as Georgie and Jason spend more time together. Campbell places an almost self-assured fire within the character as a wall, but Regan provides moments where the audience can see the more vulnerable side she doesn’t want to show people. Dickinson is equally entertaining as a novice father who knows he screwed up but is trying to make it right.
Some heavier themes reside in this film – particularly within Georgie’s character and a room she finds escapism in. However, Regan’s viewpoint meets the sadness with equal parts of light. Whenever Georgie tries to push people away, Jason stumbles, but finds ways to show he wants to be there. There’s an inherent naivety in youth paired with an equal opportunity to gain wisdom and experience. It’s in the spacial exuberance cinematographer Molly Manning Walker displays as the two main characters get out in space where the bond starts to form. It feels like a conscious decision from Regan to utilize indoor and outdoor areas to provide these characters both a world within themselves and a place where they can truly see each other all the same.
Losing a parent is hard. Trying to reckon while a parent left you within that is even more challenging. Scrapper gives Georgie the grace to explore this from a child’s eyes. Simultaneously, allows Jason to toil with the weight of his previous choices justifiably and look to rectify them as he goes along.