Would I have survived this life if there was no cinema? This is the sort of question I end up asking myself when I am fortunate enough to come across a movie like Scrapper. In many ways, movies work as a sort of wish fulfillment. Because how else would you describe The Florida Project in reverse, where the kid gets saved from abandonment instead of running away to oblivion?
Charlotte Regan’s debut feature, the Grand Jury winner at this year’s Sundance, reminds you of another film that was also directed by a young woman named Charlotte. Not to mention, Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun from last year also happens to have a thirty-something father and a twelve-something daughter at the center of it. However, unlike Aftersun, which is essentially a trip down memory lane, Scrapper is quite content to linger in its present. A lot of information is withheld, and not many words are said, but that never turns out to be an issue, as you get just the right amount of everything. I thought the ending here was the best possible outcome we all could imagine for Georgie, and I was really happy that that’s the path Scrapper decided to take.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Movie?
Is it believable that a twelve-year-old kid would manage to live completely alone in a house, do chores, go to school, hang out with friends, and so on and so forth? Because that’s exactly what Georgie aims for when her mother abruptly dies. To keep child services at bay, Georgie makes up a fake uncle with a name as ludicrous as Winston Churchill. The only person aware of this humongous secret is Georgie’s best friend Ali, a bumbling boy who is always there for his smarter friend. The duo spends their days outside school stealing bicycles and selling them, which is what keeps Georgie afloat.
Who Is Jason, And What Does He Want?
If there’s one thing Georgie was absolutely not looking forward to in her life, then that has to be the sudden arrival of her father, Jason. Harris Dickinson plays the part with boyish charm and bleached hair, and he pretty much nails it. We don’t get to know much about him other than that he is coming from Ibiza, where he’s a ticket-seller. Jason was barely an adult when he and Vickey (Georgie’s deceased mother) had the kid. He soon took off, and Vickey raised Georgie as a single mother, with no mention of Jason ever. Naturally, for Georgie, Jason is nothing but an intruder in her house and her “seemingly perfect” life. But she is unable to do something as Jason has ownership of her house and also might call social services. However, that doesn’t stop Georgie from pulling things like bolting the front door when he’s out to bring Chinese food as well as going through his things. In Georgie’s defense, Jason does give off a slightly suspicious vibe. While Georgie has it difficult with her biological dad, Ali takes quite a liking to this man and soon becomes sort of a bridge between his best friend and her estranged father. Jason, despite all his shortcomings, also tries with Georgie, which is evident from the fact that he would rather teach her how to properly knick bicycles instead of not stealing them in the first place.
Why Does Jason Decide To Stay?
Tons of abandoned kids in this world are the unfortunate outcome of unplanned teen pregnancy. And if we go by the ratio, then the number of absent fathers is probably more than the number of absent mothers. In an ideal world, that should never be the case. Kids should never be deprived of parental love. The whole point of movies like Scrapper or The Florida Project is simultaneously a representation of society and also telling us how important it is for a child to not be abandoned by their own parents.
Scrapper doesn’t offer much storywise. Instead of that, it puts the audience in the middle of Georgie’s life. And thanks to how it presents the character, you can’t help but feel for the child. You support her even when she beats up a local kid, realizing that this is a child who is going through the stages of grief all alone. When Jason shows up, you pray for him to be good, because otherwise, Georgie will suffer. Your hearts fill with joy to see Jason and Georgie finally bond over things as stupid as imitating random strangers and sneaking out of the house when the mother of the kid Georgie has beaten up arrives at the door for a confrontation. There’s no tension or thrill in the narrative of Scrapper, but with every passing minute, you keep praying that Jason will stay and take care of this weird little kid that you already love.
It is not particularly surprising to see the film finally reveal why Jason is really here. It was Vickey who sent him a voice message before her death, telling all about Georgie and most definitely with the hope that he would take care of the kid. Despite Georgie never seeing her father, she is actually a lot like Jason, something that both the audience and Vickey could see. It takes Jason a lot of courage to share the secret with Georgie. And when he finally does it, he goes away again. But this time, he doesn’t go far, and Georgie finds him playing football with the local kids. It is certainly because Jason doubts his own parenting skills, but he doesn’t want to abandon the child. A drifter making such a decision for a child is a huge statement for a contemporary movie. Why does Jason stay back, though? Maybe it has something to do with the locked room in Vickey’s house where Georgie didn’t let him enter before, and when he finally breaks in, he discovers all the scrapped pieces Georgie has stored there and has made her own space for refuge. Maybe it’s the reassurance in Vickey’s voice where she feels that only someone like Jason could properly love a child like Georgie. We can’t know for sure, but what we can take away from the fact is Jason’s decision to stay. Does that ensure Georgie a great future? We don’t know for a fact, but it clearly does give her a fighting chance. And for Jason, it gives him a purpose. Raising a child is probably one of the most daunting tasks in the world, and watching a man like him commit to that is what makes Scrapper inspiring. If only all the Jasons of the world decided to come back and stay for their Georgies!