Peter Malone MSC 19 September 2023

Twelve-year-old Georgie lives alone after her mother’s death on the London council estate, smart and enterprising, until her absent father turns up.

SCRAPPER, UK, 2023. Starring Lola Campbell, Harris Dickinson, Alin Uzun. Directed by Charlotte Regan. 85 minutes. Rated PG (Mild themes, violence and coarse language).

Here is a pleasing slice of life in East London. It is a small film, running under 90 minutes, but very engaging in its way, especially with its central character, 12-year-old Georgie.

What might we understand with the word ‘scrapper’? The Wikipedia definition, unfortunately couched in exclusive language, especially since our scrapper is a young girl: A person who disposes of scraps. A person who fights doggedly, who exhibits indomitable will. Quotations: ‘He’s a real scrapper, even against impossible odds, he always keeps fighting’.

That’s a fairly good description of Georgie except that she doesn’t dispose of scraps, she actually keeps a tidy and organised house – but, she and her best friend, her neighbour, Ali, steal bikes in the local neighbourhood, a young woman fencing them for five pounds each, scraps and resale.

Georgie is played by Lola Campbell, who has quite an extraordinary and powerful screen presence, exhibiting self-confidence, determination, face set against the world. She is alone, her mother recently dying and this affects her deeply. But, life goes on, cleaning the house, outings with Ali, his sleepovers, and the bikes . . .

Then, one day, this man turns up, looking a bit raggedy, bleached blonde hair, quite tall – and announces to Georgie that he is Jason, her father. Needless to say, he doesn’t get a welcoming reception. But, in he moves, tensions in the house – though Ali seems to like him and is friendly. (And, actually and sadly, Georgie falls out with Ali.)

So, while this is a story of a lively young girl coping with life, it is also the story of a young father, absent from his daughter’s life, returning and the two, after animosity, getting to know each other and, possibly, a future. (And Jason is not exactly anti-bikes stealing and he and Georgie are pursued by the police.)

So, this film has a very local feel, the council housing, streets and shops, the railway station . . . And, it relies on its impact, and charm, with small and homely sequences. But there is a great pathos towards the end, her mother’s phone call to Jason when she knew she was dying and concerned about her daughter. Yes, Ali does come back. A likeable film for audiences young and old.


Released 14 September