Purely character-driven tales can challenge even the most astute directors. Without relying on action sequences, CGI, or special effects, a director must trust their cast to engage and connect with the audience. Writer-director and star Vivian Kerr’s feature film, Scrap, touches on a variety of relationship issues as it explores a bond between a sister and brother and a husband and wife.
Scrap addresses several timely issues, including middle-class homelessness and infertility, but at its center is the bond between the two main characters – Beth (Kerr) and her older brother Ben (Anthony Rapp). Beth finds herself without a job and living in her car. Her daughter, Birdy (Julianna Layne), is temporarily staying with Ben and his wife, Stacy (Lana Parrilla), but neither is aware of Beth’s current situation. All the while, Stacy is dealing with a barrage of fertility treatments and the stress that comes with that. Beth manages to keep up the ruse until her ex (a man who fled when she announced her pregnancy) enters the picture, and she wrongly trusts him again.
Kerr does a remarkable job capturing the emotional rollercoaster involved in such situations and weaves an intricate tale. Her story honestly portrays seriously real situations that measure the tenacity and resilience of the humans she depicts. Her cast delivers realistic, passionate performances. Where one woman struggles to be a good mom, another grapples with desperately wanting to have her own child but then becomes exhausted by the energy it takes. Beth’s efforts to straighten out her life often backfire, and her decision-making skills put her even more at risk. Because of her caring aunt and uncle, Birdy feels a sense of normalcy, but she, too, wrestles with trusting her mother and her place in the world.
The cast shines. Kerr’s script is tight and accurate, giving her characters solid ground and dialogue on which to play. Rapp and Kerr are wonderful together, and Parrilla is perfection. In fact, even the most minor character adds wonderfully to deliver Kerr’s themes. Ultimately, each interaction works to deliver Kerr’s clear messages about real-life struggles, and she makes them wholly believable. Scrap began in 2018 as a short film written by Vivian Kerr and directed by Leena Pendharker, and Kerr has earned her place as a director with this feature film version. Scrap has rich themes that reflect her understanding of serious situations relating to personal and complicated relationships. I am placing five stars at the top. Bravo to Kerr.