Mix the cinematic ingenuity of Guy Ritchie with the musical direction of Edgar Wright and what have you got? A little bit of Geremy Jasper. Traditionally a music video director, Jasper has been known to dabble in the world of cinema, short movies specifically, but now the creative from New Jersey has leapt into the world of feature length projects, and Patti Cake$ is the end product. Unlike Wright’s Baby Driver, it may not be his life long dream to make a film about a plus-sized white girl who wants to be a rapper, but the director certainly made a go of it, and poured every ounce of his musical directorial flair into this picture.
Truth be told, Patti Cake$ is a crowd pleaser at its core. We’ve seen films about wannabe rappers before, but unlike popular movies such as 8 Mile, this one focuses on a white girl in Jersey and an Indian sidekick who wish to take the world by storm. The protagonist is Patti, real name Patricia Dombrowski (Danielle MacDonald). She lives with her mother and grandmother in New Jersey, and dreams of one day emulating and surpassing her rap hero O-Z (Sahr Ngaujah). Along with Siddharth Dhananjay who plays her partner in crime Hareesh, her Nan (Cathy Moriarty), and an alternative introvert simply named Antichrist (Mamoudou Athie), she forms a new music group to create fresh “Boom Boom Bap” beats. The band is Patti’s chance to show her doubters her talent, and she does everything she can to achieve her dreams whilst supporting her loved ones.
MacDonald bears a fabulous screen presence throughout the feature, showing a number of different sides to her role. When a person is ridiculed for her size almost every waking hour, it can be easy to form the impression that an individual such as Patti would have emotional baggage holding her back, but what makes MacDonald’s portrayal so powerful is how the character clearly has no strings attached to her. She deals with her family issues with courage and strength, albeit through a mass of curse words and explicit language, but as the film progresses we begin to see the role model Geremy Jasper had envisaged.
This colourful character development has unfortunately left others rather out in the cold. Ultimately the lack of support for the plot has led to the movie being full of clichés, following a very simple and common structure, and a poorly constructed romance feels as though it was forced into the screenplay to satisfy a wider audience. A slightly nauseating overuse of close-ups also suggests that Jasper still has a few lessons to learn in terms of creating a blockbuster masterpiece; but Patti Cake$ will be a flop for some and a hit for others. Fox Searchlight will be hoping for the latter, after forking out $10.5 million for the picture following its success at Sundance Festival, but only time will tell if Patti Cake$ can achieve her dreams on national screens.
Patti Cake$ is released nationwide on 1st September 2017. Watch our interviews with director Geremy Jasper and cast here.
Watch the trailer for Patti Cake$ here: