Scooter (2022) Movie Review from Eye for Film

Scooter
“Anita Abinezhad’s central performance is compelling, bold and bargaining.”

“You were meant to behave,” and in that is the heart of the argument. It’s almost certainly a red 1993 Chrysler LeBaron, the convertible, but whatever the general motor it cannot carry the couple any further.

Enter the scooter. Fried chicken. French fries. A girl tied up in the back of a van. There was almost certainly ketchup. There will be blood.

The lines in the car park are an offer of sorts, a compact that doesn’t need to be obeyed. It’s the full moon. There are bargains to be struck beyond combo meals. Seize the means of escape.

Chelsea Lupkin’s film is strong, not only in terms of language. Mainstream Glaswegian and American perspectives vary on the C-word but while it’s indelicate it’s not inapposite. She’s done a fair amount of work in food TV or equivalent, and in a film with a number of striking moments the sizzle of potato in hot oil and the slow accumulation of a non-Newtonian amalgamation of tomato puree and vinegar and depending on the accuracy of my television’s interpretation of the shadows and fluorescents of a late night fast food joint some sugar and perhaps some spice. Though that’s not all little girls are made of. She’s also directed a handful of shorts, and on the basis of this I’ve got an appetite to seek them out. Scooter doesn’t so much unfold as stew, becoming an inventive and satisfying combination of ingredients.

“You were meant to behave,” but it’s clear that the rules aren’t clear. They change to protect some and constrain others. Where to go, how to act, even the power to open doors.

Unseen forces are at work. Unnoticed too, the trope of the unheeding worker at their mop or vacuum while chaos goes on behind them wasn’t new when Jim Cameron used it in True Lies and it’s even less new here. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, I smile even now to think of it.

Anita Abinezhad’s central performance is compelling, bold and bargaining. In a film where someone’s credited as someone else’s screams her abilities are manifest as revelation, rescue, retribution and reward are all represented in performance. She’s done some shorts and had a recurring role in a television series that appears to be disconnected from any channel or streaming site but has been shown at festivals. The dark arts of distribution are as horrifying as anything here. Though the supernatural element is perhaps not as chilling as Sky Smith’s performance as Heston. Just as Abinezhad’s peformance includes not only her character but her character’s acting, the pretending we all do to different extents as part of the lies we tell each other that we call society, his performance includes the sharp turns of sharp tones, masks and their slipping . The Red Rooster might give its name to the drive-in but that’s a poor reward for sacrifice. Cold concrete and plastic baskets, opportunity in green paint or plastic wrap.

Johnny Kapps’ cinematography is sharp. The ‘Hamburgers’ stand with its incongruous ice-cream cone cupola is a neon church against an infinitely black sky. It sits like a painting beneath the credits, a treat. Chris Dudley’s score is driving by then, as are two of our characters to very different fates. Unseen, except perhaps in either hindsight or the rear view mirror. Scooter’s a thrilling ride, simple angular direct. It’s powered by people and all the more powerful for it. Call it up if you can, but know that it’ll be harder to put down.

Reviewed on: 07 Aug 2022