To See or Not to See: Patti Cake$
Even if you are not a fan of hip-hop music, you will unabashedly dive right into Patti Cake$, writer and director Geremy Jasper’s ultimately joyful film about being an outsider.
Patricia Dombrowski (Danielle Macdonald) is stuck in her New Jersey town. She’s 23, works at a bar, takes care of her convalescing Nana (Cathy Moriarty), deals with her drinking mother Barb (Bridget Everett)…and dreams of escaping it all by becoming a rapper. Her best friend Hareesh, aka Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay), dreams big with Patti.
Her mother has always blamed Patti being born for ruining her own musical dreams of being a rock ‘n’ roll star so when Patti declares her intentions of becoming a rapper, it doesn’t go over well. In town, Patti spits rhymes at men who belittle her and call her Dumbo (she’s overweight) in rap battles; there isn’t satisfaction at beating them, though. There is just the hurt at being fat-shamed and gender-shamed. Supported by Nana and Jheri, Patti pursues collaborating with Bob (Mamoudou Athie), the town’s mysterious anarchist. There’s more, of course. There’s blossoming love, there’s obstacles, sadness, and satisfaction.
Danielle Macdonald portrays Patti so well that her struggles feel authentic. She is a woman in a male-dominated field. She is white where there are not many. She is poor. She is fat. She is a constant outsider. Macdonald gives Patti depth, and the audience shares in every emotion. Additionally, Macdonald learned to rap for this role which is a feat in itself. The remainder of the cast is delightful, particularly Bridget Everett. As a mother, she fails Patti more times than not, but she has a quiet strength and dignity that make her one of the most interesting characters on screen.
Dreaming big, innate talent, how to love, and fighting against your lot in life. This Sundance Film Festival darling is, in short, a small movie with big themes and an even bigger heart.
★ ★ ★ 1/2 out of 4
Photo Credit:Jeong Park/Fox Searchlight