Reviewed by Claire Houghton

"It takes a village to raise a child", says the opening caption of 'Scrapper'; over which a child's handwriting scrawls- "I can raise myself, thanks!"

So the tone is set for the rest of the film. Funny, sharp and beautifully observed, 'Scrapper' is the directorial debut from 29- year-old Charlotte Regan. Set on an East London housing estate, 12-year-old Georgie (played by newcomer Lola Campbell) is living alone following the tragic death of her mother. Her tough exterior hides a grieving child struggling to deal with huge loss whilst navigating her way through school, social services, friendship groups (or lack of) and generally trying to make her way in the world.

The opening scene sees Georgie cleaning the small flat she shared with her mother since birth. She's careful to ensure everything is perfect, referring back to photos taken from when Mum was alive; of the sofa, the arrangement of cushions, the rugs on the floor. Mum Vicky (Olivia Brady) had kept the house very tidy. We see Georgie with best friend Ali (Alin Uzzun), nicking bikes to sell to pay for food. Georgie weaves an elaborate web of lies to dupe school and social services into thinking she is living with an uncle and seems to have thought of everything- except the unexpected appearance of long- lost dad Jason (Harris Dickinson), whose bleached-blonde head hops over the garden fence one day and into her life.

Winner of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Dramatic Competition Prize, Scrapper draws us into a world of magical, rather than social realism. By grounding the characters in humour, Regan has avoided letting the film stray into 'dark' territories such as child exploitation or threats to physical safety. Scrapper leaves its audience uplifted rather than shocked and is all the more powerful and poignant as a result.