Since her mother died, twelve year-old Georgie (Lola Campbell) has been living by herself in their suburban London row house, making money by stealing bikes with her bestie Ali (Alin Uzun) and evading social services with fake guardian Uncle Winston Churchill who is actually the recorded voice of a local shopkeeper.  When her absentee dad Jason (Harris Dickinson, "Beach Rats," "Triangle of Sadness") arrives to try and take control of the situation, a battle of wills will ensue in “Scrapper.”

Laura's Review: B+

Writer/director Charlotte Regan, who started shooting music videos at fifteen, won the 2023 Sundance Grand Jury World Cinema prize with her feature film debut, which in many ways is like the joyous, equally inventive counterpart to Charlotte Wells’ more melancholy debut “Aftersun.”  With its candy colored houses, humorously captioned spiders and little girl who ‘can take care of myself thanks,’ “Scrapper” is an emotionally satisfying and charming indie.

After a montage of Georgie vacuuming, washing dishes and doing laundry, we see the preternaturally composed little girl talk her way out of being caught about to steal a young woman’s bike.  While her gambit isn’t all that convincing, she’s given the benefit of the doubt.  She and Ali paint their stolen goods yellow and turn them in for cash with stolen bike seller Zeph (Ambreen Razia). 

When Jason, who’s been living with mates sustaining themselves selling tourist tickets on Ibiza, arrives, he looks like an overgrown kid himself with his bleached rapper hairstyle and long shorts.  Georgie informs him in no uncertain terms that he’s not wanted, but when he threatens to call ‘the socials,’ she allows him in.  Then she and Ali cook up a plot to take him up on an offer of takeout and lock him out.

Jason’s attempts to make his way in as Georgie fights to keep him out will eventually meet in the middle, Regan’s screenplay finding organic and delightful ways to do this, most involving play but the most significant concerning Jason’s discovery of Georgie’s ways of keeping her late mom close, something which takes a sad turn when she loses her phone.  Cinematographer Molly Manning Walker alternates from wide screen lensing to a rounded edge square frame for Greek choruses comprised of neighborhood friend Layla’s (Freya Bell) band of girls in pink, a trio of brothers (the Oyesanwos) on yellow bikes and Zeph surrounded by the stolen vehicles.

If Wells made a discovery in Frankie Corio, Regan’s found her own natural in Lola Campbell, the 11 year-old a hilariously older-than-her-years entertainer.  Dickinson’s been impressing since his debut, showing range here as a young dad finding his way while as an actor he generously supports Campbell.  These two create a parent-child relationship that, while wobbly to start, convinces of the solid ground beneath it by film’s end.  “Scrapper” is a gem that surprises from start to finish.

Robin's Review: B

12-year old Georgie (Lola Campbell) has lived alone in her small London flat since her mother died. She has successfully avoided social services and makes a living stealing bicycles with her BFF Ali (Alin Uzum). Things are going along fine, until the father she never knew hops the fence into her yard and into her life in “Scrapper.”

The story begins with the title “It takes a village to raise a child,” followed by a quote from Georgie, “I can raise myself, thank you!” This makes it hard to pigeon-hole a film like “Scrapper,” the first-time feature by writer-director Charlotte Regan.

It starts out with two youngsters, Georgie and a bit older Ali, stealing bicycles and selling them to a local chop shop. Then, one day while they are talking business in Georgie’s home, her estranged father, Jason (Harris Dickinson), falls off the fence and things change for the self-reliant and industrious 12-year old.

He has been living the easy life tending bar on Ibiza and just heard of Georgie’s mom, Vicky’s (Olivia Brady), death. He is back, he claims, to help the daughter he never knew. She wants nothing to do with him but knows he can rat her out with social services. An uneasy truce prevails.

This is when the story about a father/daughter, adult/child comes into play - but just who is the adult and who is the child is questioned. What anchors this little family story is young Lola Campbell as Georgie, wise far beyond her 12-years, and dealing with her total opposite, Jason.

There is a nice arc to this father-daughter story with its role reversing of the adult-child dynamic. Young Campbell is a marvel as Georgie and Harris Dickinson and Alin Uzun play well off of her. Lola, though, is the one to watch, much like young Frankie Corio in last year’s very similar “Aftersun.”

Kino Lorber released “Scrapper” in select theaters on 8/25/23.  Click here for play dates.