Review: Scrap

Written and directed by leading actress Vivian Kerr, after getting laid off, young single-mom Beth finds herself living in her car and struggles to hide her homelessness from her estranged brother Ben. Also starring: Anthony Rapp, Lana Parrilla, Khleo Thomas, Julianna Layne, Beth Dover and Stephanie Drake.

The story of Scrap captures the modern, daily struggle, it’s a blend of hardship, vanity and the line between independence and selfishness. What sets this film apart from a lot which follow a similar line, is how committed Vivian Kerr is to making Beth feel real. She’s flawed but working to improve herself, particularly in how the story explores her as a mother. It taps into that classic chestnut of prejudice, if a mother doesn’t act in the exact way that society typically expects, then she’s judged as a bad mother. It brings into question the idea of how selfless can you be, because in order to rebuild a suitable life for herself and her child, she has to focus on herself.

The entire inclusion of Lana Parrilla’s Stacy feels like an embodiment of that, especially as its through the eyes of someone trying to start their own family and anxious about their own potential role as a mother. It sets up an interesting debate, there can be two viewpoints of her character, firstly she can feel superfluous and serve as a disappointing example of women tearing each other down. However, the other side of that coin is to say, her character represents a very apt reality of how people who have, or are trying to have, children can be horrendously judgemental of parents.

While struggle and motherhood take the lead with this story, it’s paired with themes of how traumatic childhoods can fracture sibling relationships. Whether that be out of the changing relationship that the older feels obligated to become a parent figure, or they simply have difficulty evolving their connection past those memories in adulthood. It’s a well-written aspect to the story, it’s only a shame it didn’t take more of the limelight, it felt as though the moments between Ben and Stacy may have been time better spent on the brother-sister relationship. There was an opportunity to dive a little bit deeper into that connection which was missed. It’s also one that comes close to adding a larger note of comedy and portrays the potential for something self-deprecatingly funny, enhancing the sarcasm and creating something akin to the style of the Duplass brothers or The Skeleton Twins.

Vivian Kerr’s directorial effort is solid but it’s her performance that comes out on top. It’s relatable, messy and honest, she creates a character who feels authentic. Anthony Rapp adds a lot of compassion, Ben can tend to wander into doormat territory but he’s also fiercely loyal, smart and caring. The more surprising member of the cast is Khleo Thomas, who will be forever remembered by any 90s kid as Zero in Holes, but here provides a sweet, charming romantic interest. Thomas has a fantastic chemistry with Kerr, the moments between them are some of the strongest that the film has to offer. The two create a great feeling of openness and frankness which pushes away that societal judgement and expectation.

Scrap is a hugely relatable feature debut from Vivian Kerr. It’s a great exploration of the everyday struggle of modern mothers, today’s vanity constantly pushing people to put on a brave face and not ask for help. There’s a strong ensemble at work, led by a wonderfully brash and candid performance from Kerr. Although it feels as though it had the potential for something with a larger sense of humour, there’s a few scenes here and there which didn’t have a lot to add and it missed out on dedicating that time to Beth and Ben’s touching bond.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

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