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Review: Scrap – “A charming family dramedy”

Life is not always sunshine and rainbows, even under the often bright rays of Los Angeles.  No one seems to know this better than Beth (Vivian Kerr) who is once again waking in her car, her vehicle containing all her needed personal belongings.  After recently being laid off, no fault of her own, Beth’s life has taken a turn for the worse and she finds herself homeless, and in desperate need of new employment to help take care of herself and her daughter, Birdy.  

Initially, she does a good job hiding her changed life circumstances, sending Birdy to live with her successful novelist brother, Ben (Anthony Rapp) and his wife Stacy (Lana Parrilla of Why Women Kill, Once Upon a Time).  Beth avoids Ben’s calls while pretending she is on an extended business trip.  However, having their niece stay with them brings up complicated feelings for Ben and Stacy who are themselves having to consider a third round of IVF treatment to continue their efforts to have a baby of their own.  But, if Beth can swallow her pride and learn to accept a helping hand from her brother, all of them may end up with a better sense of family.  

Star Vivian Kerr also writes and directs Scrap, her feature directorial debut.  It stems from the 2018 short film of the same name which she also wrote and that sees Rapp originate the role of Ben.  While it’s been a few years now obviously since that was shot, the two co-stars clearly found a way to reconnect to their sibling chemistry and it’s one of the reasons why Scrap shines.  The film is truly at its best when Kerr and Rapp share the screen, when their banter and all the history of their sibling relationship and hierarchy come into play.  

Full disclosure, as a self-professed Renthead (if you don’t know the meaning of this term, you were probably born before 1996 and/or likely did not watch or appreciate Andrew Garfield in Tick, Tick… Boom!) I’ve been an Anthony Rapp fan for decades and so loved seeing him in this role.  There’s even a very short moment where he sings, which will be exciting for those that do know what the term Renthead means.

Kerr keeps this drama light, both figuratively and visually with the film often as bright as that L.A. sun.  With cinematography from Markus MentzerScrap can showcase some of the best-known and loveliest views the city has to offer, or work seamlessly in the tight confines of a Volkswagen hatchback.  But while there are heavier themes at play, Kerr keeps the overall feeling upbeat, with a healthy dose of humour permeating the tone of the film.  Parrilla gets some more dramatic work to do in the film’s third act, which is where she truly shines, but for a film that deals with homelessness, grief, loss, and fertility, amongst other topics, it’s a testament to Kerr’s vision that Scrap doesn’t get absorbed by its serious and complex thematic roots.

Some short films truly struggle to become feature films, but Scrap has more than enough material to flesh out its 105 minutes.  That’s not to say that a little trimming couldn’t improve its focus, but it never feels like Kerr is scrambling for content.  Instead, Scrap evolves into a charming family dramedy whose cast makes the film all the more amiable and engaging.    

Scrap had it’s world premiere at the Deauville-American Film Festival and will screen later this month at the Phoenix Film Festival.  For more information on future screenings please visit the film’s website (

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