Harris Dickinson, the east Londoner tipped to play the next James Bond, is geometrically perfect, yet he doesn’t coast on his pretty face. Full of surprises in Beach Rats, County Lines and Triangle of Sadness (in which he did play a model), the 27 year-old actor is just as confounding in this poignant, Sundance prize-winning comedy, in which he stars as a “weird” Jack the lad. If you appreciate no-frills finesse, you’ll be floored.
Jason (Dickinson) has a 12-year-old daughter, Georgie (luminous newcomer Lola Campbell), who’s been fending for herself by nicking and recycling bikes ever since the death of her single mum, Vicky (Olivia Brady). Then Jason shows up at the council estate flat Georgie shared with her mother, saying he wants to make up for lost time.
He attempts to woo Georgie and her best friend/partner in crime Ali (Alin Uzun; adorable), offering tips on how to stay ahead of the law. Can this geezer be trusted? And who’ll get hurt, when the pent-up Georgie starts throwing punches?
Though Scrapper (kid-friendly from start to finish) has been described as “Ken Loach meets Wes Anderson”, those hoping for a Kes and Wes show will be disappointed. The hyperactive and deliberately, well, scrappy mood owes more to Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.
This isn’t a whimsical movie about working class life; its non-privileged characters get pleasure from whimsy, which is different. In a standout scene, Jason and Georgie invent surreal dialogue for a pair of expensively-dressed strangers and the madly astute banter (worthy of The Goon Show yet somehow topical) is a total joy.
Writer-director Regan, raised on an estate in Hackney, has always kicked against “grey council estate” clichés (in 2016, she made a colourful, brilliant short about a 15-year-old cocaine dealer). How nifty, too, that she never makes an issue of Georgie’s partial deafness. Our heroine wears a hearing aid. So what? Her disability, like her class status, doesn’t define her.
Admittedly, Scrapper has its share of twee and implausible moments. It’s established that Vicky knew she was dying, yet we’re expected to believe this vivacious and resourceful woman a) had no friends capable of creating a safety net for Georgie and b) would trust a man she hadn’t seen in 12 years to provide said support. Yeah, right. I’m a single mum and this element of the plot made me want to give the nearest wall a knuckle sandwich.
Even so, what a find Regan is. Dickinson and Michael Fassbender (one of Scrapper’s producers) have used their fame to enable lesser-known talents to shine. Taken as a whole, the result is dazzling.
84mins, cert 12A
In cinemas from August 25