August 31, 2023 by Ilan Harris
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A movie review by Ilan Harris

Even with its bold use of colour, imagery and sound, Scrapper still manages to produce one of the most grounded and realistic portrayals of a child protagonist in recent years.

Writer-Director Charlotte Regan who made her start as a music video director shows that she understands what it means to be a child, while actors’ subtle expressions display the uncertainty of their situation, their speech displays the hard-headedness of youth. It is this contrast of honest scripting combined with suburb acting particularly by lead actress Lola Campbell that has melded to form a movie, which less than halfway through I was thinking I wanted to come see again and bring the family with me.

The film opens with the sound of children playing. A quote comes up on the screen ‘It takes a community to raise a child’ only to be crossed out to display underneath ‘I can raise myself thanks.’ Georgie’s perspective is key to the character-led film and the whole cast is engaging. Georgie is at times awkward like a real child, agitated like a real child, and dances freely like a real child, she speaks to adults and gets them to do what she wants without an irritating precociousness that has been so common in recent television and film. Even the isolationist I-can-do-it-myself perspective that came from the loss of her mother is one befitting of someone her age, though taken to comedic extremes for the sake of storytelling.

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A store clerk records audio messages for Georgie to fool the social workers into thinking her fictitious uncle, Uncle Winston Churchill is looking after her. Meanwhile, some but not all parents in the area are aware that her supposed living situation is made up and do not report her, until her behaviour is an issue. At one point in the film, when becoming emotional Georgie beats someone up, however, the first time she refers to it she describes it as a ‘fight’. The writing again further expresses her youth and difficult life experience, Georgie is not highlighted to be malicious just struggling emotionally and lost, and took time like real children do to acknowledge her mistakes.

Short scenes of interviews of side characters pop up in between shots, often relevant to the dialogue before them. A group of girls all around Georgie’s age with pink clothing and make-up chastise her in the interview for not knowing how to apply make-up herself. Georgie grows distant from her only friend Ali portrayed by engagingly Alin Uzun, who quickly wants to become friends with her estranged father himself.

Colour, costuming and set decoration is more dynamic than natural, with heavy use of bright pastel colours. Each attached house is a different colour and different sets of characters are displayed only in certain colours matching their personality. It might not be naturalistic but through the eyes of Georgie it makes sense. Is the pink girl clique really only wearing pinks and the occasional dash of purple, or when viewed in relation to the inept social workers’ grey clothes and office and the uncaring teacher’s muted browns, are their colour palettes a reflection of how a somewhat ant-social and still mourning child sees them and their connection to her.

One of the interesting things about Scrapper is the thing it decides not to note. Georgie visibly wears a hearing aid and it is never addressed. The film has a narrative where a character can have a disability, yet their character not their disability is the central part of the movie. It was not intended to be hidden either, like many things in the film, it is brightly coloured, blue and pink. The film simultaneously draws the viewer’s eyes to them and yet says, but this is not what we are discussing; loss, connection and love that is what we are discussing.

4/5 stars

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