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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
Meet Georgie, the human spark- plug at the energetic heart of Scrapper: Georgie is 12 years old, and she’s been living alone in the London flat she shared with her late mother, avoiding social services by insisting that she lives with her uncle, Winston Churchill. As Scrapper opens, Georgie is tidying up the apartment, arranging the couch pillows exactly as they were in the last photo she has of her beloved mom. She looks at her list of the stages of grief and crosses off “bargaining,” which means “depression” is next.
Viewers expecting a dour study in British miserabilism are in for a bracing surprise in this warmly affecting portrait of resilience at its flintiest and funniest. This quirky slice of life seeks to subvert nearly every expectation set up by what was once called kitchen-sink drama, with its monochrome palette and hangdog naturalism. Instead, Scrapper bursts with colour (the units in Georgie’s apartment complex are painted glorious shades of pink, yellow and aquamarine), and the story is equally alive with optimism and vagrant scraps of pure joy. At first, those moments of exuberance come from Georgie herself — with an irresistible combination of toughness and vulnerability. With her best friend Ali, Georgie spends most of her time stealing bicycles, which the pair hastily repaint and sell for a few pounds. Quick on her feet, Georgie can be depended on to talk their way out of a bind when they’re caught red-handed.
Her ferociously independent existence is going just fine until her father, Jason — who left when she was a baby — shows up out of nowhere. Just when this man-child is ready to take responsibility, his actual child has zero interest in being parented. In Dickinson’s alert, always-game hands, his character slowly morphs from a maybe-shady party boy to someone far more appealing and substantive. As a world-builder, Regan has made a film every bit as feisty, self-possessed, and street-smart as Georgie herself. To use Georgie’s term of art, Scrapper really knows how to style it out.