Her name is Patricia Dombrowski, but she goes by the pseudonym Killa P, aka Patti Cake$, and she’s a young girl from New Jersey who dreams of superstardom. Her situation is familiar to anyone who’s seen 8 Mile – she lives with her boozy mother Barb (Bridget Everett) and her Nana (Cathy Moriarty, aka Vicky in Raging Bull), and has to work two jobs to keep on top of bills – but both she and the film have a mischievous, energetic spirit, that goes a long way to keep its audience satisfied.
Patti is played by Danielle Macdonald, and it’s shameful that the first, unusual thing we notice about Patti Cake$ is that it’s led by a girl who’s overweight. She’s subject to cat-calls of “Dumbo” throughout the neighbourhood, but this, if anything, fuels the girl’s passion, which is rapping. Along with her best friend (Siddharth Dhananjay), she spits out lyrics to a “boom bap” beat, with furious, eloquent, charming bravado. And when Patti persuades introverted musician “Antichrist” (Mamoudou Athie) to produce their music in his shack in the woods, they form the group PBNJ – as immortalised by Macdonald in their catchy first song, a guaranteed earworm.
Like 8 Mile, Patti’s situation is grounded in the gritty situational, but this is a different beast of a film, altogether more self-aware and funny. Director Geremy Jasper demonstrates a knack for humorous editing rhythms that recall Edgar Wright, while bold colours and fantastic music video cutaways help give this low-budget investment the cocksure quality of something bigger. And there’s a well-managed sense of energy that builds throughout and persuades the audience to will Patti on to success, helped along by Macdonald’s sensitive turn in the lead role.
Again, this is very familiar material – perhaps too familiar, with too little time paid to some of the characters, who are used as pawns in a game of audience crowd-pleasing. But Patti Cake$ plays the game well, and should be applauded for its brash, inclusive spirit.
Patti Cake$ is released nationwide on 1st September 2017.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Cannes Film Festival 2017 visit here.
Watch the trailer for Patti Cake$ here: