Film Review: Patti Cake$

Directed by: Geremy Jasper – Starring: Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett, Siddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie, Cathy Moriarty

If you’ve seen the trailer for this flick, where Danielle Macdonald’s Patti Cake freestyle raps her way through a drug store while her friend, Jheri (Dhananjay) acts as her MC, then you have probably gathered that this is about an aspiring rap star. But if you are expecting some sort of hilarious take on A Star is Born, you’d be sorely mistaken, as this is more Precious meets 8 Mile and far darker than the trailer implies.

The aforementioned Patti lives a day to day life of drudgery, working in minimum wage jobs to support her alcoholic mother and her ailing grandmother. In the little free time that she gets, she fantasises about making it big in the rap world. Unfortunately for her, no one other than her Grandmother and Jheri takes her seriously.

It is impossible not to warm to Macdonald in the title role in what is a truly breakout performance. She does a fantastic job, and attacks the female focused rap lyrics with gusto. Indeed, the film is filled with strong performances, with Dhananjay’s Jheri possibly being the weakest link. Unfortunately we don’t get much in the way of character development though, so you never really know what is motivating most of the leads other than Patti.

Director Jasper wrote all the songs featured, which does give them a consistency, however he hasn’t really thought about the context in which they are used dramatically. There are scenes where no sooner has Patti written the song than the whole band inexplicably know it, which detracts totally from the credibility of the story. There are also a couple of clichéd scenes that are supposed to be emotionally charged, but come off as humorous rather than heart-wrenching.

If you are not a fan of rap music (as some of the audience weren’t at the screening I attended) you may find the musical scenes (and there are many) begin to grate a bit. But for all its flaws though this does have a certain charm about it, and Macdonald is definitely one to watch. Indeed she elevates this otherwise pretty standard underdog story hugely. This won’t appeal to everyone but if you fancy your gritty drama mixed with heavy doses of deep cuts you’ll enjoy this.

In cinemas now!


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The new LGBT magazine; available online, for download and on podcast. It's time for another view.
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