The cinematic magic in Scrapper is why we watch at all. A debut indie film that embraces quirkiness and homespun verisimilitude, Charlotte Regan’s debut release shoves the viewer into the world of twelve-year-old Georgie living alone (and escaping the dreaded “social services” by persuading a friend to record conversational scraps as a mythical “Uncle Winston Churchill”) after the death of her mother. Life is bicycle stealing and domestic rigour amidst grief avoidance. Vaulting over her back fence comes Jason, her father who flitted to Spain before her birth, a jaunty laddish man not especially suited to assuming fatherly duties. The two clash and ebb, clash and ebb, while the viewer settles, via jittery cinematography and eclectic music and an excellent supporting cast, into a convincing absorption of a blue-collar British neighbourhood. Regan punctuates the earthy, dialogue-driven narrative with jarring surreal moments: talking-heads interviews with locals, a captioned spider conversation, visually recreated thoughts. All of this melds deliciously, resulting in a sense that we KNOW the two central characters, both (at least in my own case) vastly out of our own experience, and this knowing infuses visceral tension as the central question plays out: will the new father bring salvation or tragedy? I doubt I’ll find myself as invested in a 2023 movie as I was in Scrapper.