Deborah Ross

Colourful, tender and sweet, grounded in magical rather than social realism: Scrapper reviewed

A film about a working-class kid that's not grim and earnest

Georgie (Lola Campbell) with her on-screen father Jason (Harris Dickinson)

Scrapper is a film about a working-class kid who, after her mother dies, has to look after herself. I know what you’re expecting. It isn’t that. It’s not an earnestly grim wrist-slitter. It’s not an indictment of modern Britain with no shred of hope. It’s not Ken Loach. It’s not even desaturated and grimy. Instead, it’s colourful, tender and sweet with quirky moments that are grounded in magical rather than social realism. And it’s just 84 minutes long, which is a boon. (‘A boon,’ confirms bladders everywhere.)

When child actors are rubbish I tend not to say anything as it’s like kicking puppies

This is the first feature from writer-director Charlotte Regan and the film sets out its stall at the off with an intertitle that reads: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ which is then crossed out, with a child’s handwriting saying: ‘I’ll raise myself, thanks.’ Georgie (newcomer Lola Campbell) will raise herself, thanks. She is 12, wears a West Ham top, and lives on an estate where the council houses are as brightly coloured as beach huts. She evades the authorities by saying she shares the property with an uncle, and social services are so uncaring they buy it even though said uncle is called ‘Winston Churchill’.

She keeps the house exactly as her mother had it. She pays the rent and earns money by stealing bikes with her best friend Ali (Alin Uzun, also a newcomer). She is determinedly independent – but who is this plopping over the back fence with a terrible hair-do? It’s her father, Jason, who had been living in Ibiza and has returned to make good. They’ve never met before. What follows is a story where the child teaches the adult how to parent. But as the film critic Roger Ebert once said: ‘It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it.’

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