Heartwarming: Sam Tarry reviews 'Scrapper'
Georgie (Lola Campbell) with Jason (Harris Dickinson) | Image courtesy of Picturehouse Entertainment
Set in the working-class Essex heartlands, Scrapper is a funny, gritty and uplifting tale of the relationship between a bereaved 12 year-old and her estranged father
Funny, gritty, and heartwarming – your author might even have had a tear in the corner of an eye at points – Scrapper is an insightful and humorous pastiche of life lived in the South’s very own red wall.
Set in the Essex working-class heartlands, the council estate might be crumbling a little around the edges but it is a community where families are tight-knit and look out for one another. It reminded me of the estates near Tilbury in Thurrock, or parts of South Basildon, that I’ve campaigned in for Labour over the years. The film even featured a hilarious scene set whilst waiting for the C2C train that connects the tip of South Essex beyond Southend to central London as dad, long MIA in Ibiza, begins to build a bond with the daughter he has only just met.
The central story is a simple one: a tough, feisty kid, Georgie, having lost her mum, is trying to survive day-to-day independently – dodging social services with amusing tricks, faking voice notes, and stealing bikes for cash – all along defying the odds to battle on, even with a broken heart. Out of the blue a stranger appears, literally over the fence – some random geezer, who she is rightly suspicious of. It turns out he’s the original owner of the classic “Dagenham Motors” sponsored West Ham shirt that she always thought was just her mum’s. He is her dad.
Scrapper is an insightful and humorous pastiche of life lived in the South’s very own red wall
It’s then a comical, crazy blast as both her dad, Jason – seemingly clueless at being a parent – and Georgie, wise beyond her years, size each other up. What unfolds is uplifting, cheeky and – in the end – hopeful. Her father wants to be a proper dad, even if he’s uncertain of how, and when the dying wish of Georgie’s mum is revealed, it’s clear he’s chosen to try and leave his party island days behind – to step up and “be a man” as some might say – most importantly to be the dad Georgie now needs.
Through various escapades they begin to build a bond, from legging it from the Old Bill after a joint attempt to nick a bike, learning dance moves in an abandoned warehouse, or doing the washing at a laundrette. Jason begins to show a warmth towards his daughter, the motivation to care that brought him back to try to make up for lost time, and Georgie realises that maybe they have more in common than a vintage Irons shirt.
Georgie’s grief at losing her mum is a strong theme in the film too, explored in a scene where she loses her phone, and therefore the videos and pictures she has of her mum, and her frantic, desperate, search to not have those memories lost forever. But we’re also reminded that she is a child, believing that she can still reach her mum as she retreats in numerous dreamlike intervals into her project to build a metal tower high enough to reach heaven. Built locked and hidden in a room in the small flat, the moment her dad decides to break the lock – open the door and understand the pain she is suffering – is the moment you realise that, despite all the years apart, sometimes love is innate. It leads him to open his heart to her – and explain just why he came back to be her dad.
Its cinema run has now ended, but I would definitely recommend keeping an eye out for when Scrapper is released onto one of the streaming platforms.
Sam Tarry is Labour MP for Ilford South
Written & directed by: Charlotte Regan
Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.