In his debut feature, Geremy Jasper delivers an endearing film about chasing your dreams even when the odds are stacked against you.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
If someone pitched a film to you about an overweight white girl from the wrong side of the tracks with aspirations to be rap star… well, you’d probably think it a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, this story of Patricia Dombrowski aka Patti Cake$ actually holds up to deliver a tale of ambition and perseverance in the face of adversity.
Patricia (Danielle Macdonald) dreams of escaping Jersey with her best friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay) to seek fame and fortune, and most importantly, a recording contract. But will her responsibilities to her sick Nan and her alcoholic mother keep her from accomplishing her goals?
The trailers for Patti Cake$ set it up as an 8 Mile-come-Fish Tank-come-Precious blend, but instead Patti Cake$ brings a lot of heart, hope and some killer beats. It is the first feature for director, writer and composer Geremy Jasper, and his ability to capture Patti’s hardships as well as the character’s flaws in a sympathetic light is this film’s overarching strength.
In her unwavering belief in her rap abilities, Australia’s Danielle Macdonald brings an innocence to Patti that makes you want to root for her. Her relationship with Dhananjay is uplifting and funny, and amazingly remains a platonic friendship, which is unusual, but actually a relief.
The most impressive part of this film by far is the music. Jasper composed all the tracks in the film, and Macdonald’s ability to rap out the slick lines is really impressive. Rap fan or not, the music is catchy and full of attitude, but most importantly, fun. It’s not angry or abusive like Eminem in 8 Mile, but rather heartfelt and earnest, softening the abrasive nature that is often associated with the rap genre.
Equally impressive is the film’s fully constructed narrative, which I honestly haven’t seen in a long time. All the characters experience their own trials and tribulations and demonstrate clear growth. The story, no matter how simple and formulaic, feels complete when it ends.
With a break-out cast and director, Patti Cake$ ability to look at the harshness of reality and examine people’s flaws without judging them makes this film a must-see. It’s a film that tells you never to give up on your dreams and to persevere in doing what you love.
Patti Cake$ is available in Australian cinemas from September 14
Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox