Fantasy-Driven 'Patti Cake$' is Essential Summer Viewing
Patti Cake$ tells the story of a young woman, Patti “Dumbo” Dumbrowski (Danielle Macdonald), in her quest to escape her hometown in Bergen County, New Jersey to make it as a rap superstar. However, escaping is harder than imagined. Patti is stuck in a dead end job serving drinks at a local bar, barely making ends meet, and certainly not making enough to cover the massive medical expenses the family owes. Her home life is just as bleak. Patti’s mother, Barb (played by an excellent Bridget Everett), had musical aspirations of her own, but now spends her days watching Court TV shows and singing karaoke at the bar where Patti works. The only bright spot at home is Patti’s wheelchair-ridden grandmother, Nana (Cathy Moriarty).
Thankfully Patti is not alone in her dreams. She spends much of her free time with Jhen (Siddharth Dhananjay), planning for the day their duo hits it big. After a parking lot rap battle where Patti, aka Killa P, aka Patti Cake$, shows the local douchebags she got bars, she and Jhen resolve to make their dream a reality.
The film, written and directed by Geremy Jasper, oscillates between the gritty realism of Patti’s rundown Jersey suburb and her surreal fantasy life, often smoke-filled and opulent. As the film progresses Jasper paints a vivid picture of a forgotten New Jersey town where the Manhattan skyline is just close enough to make life feel small. Jasper’s direction especially allows his performers to shine, and none shine brighter than Macdonald, whose ability to spit Killa P’s raunchy, fun verses is paralleled by her portrayal of Patti’s deep yearning and pain.
As the credits began to roll, it was no wonder why Macdonald received a standing ovation at the film’s premiere earlier this year at Sundance. The combination of Jasper’s touching and often hilarious script with Macdonald’s star-making performance cements Patti Cake$ as essential summer viewing. So don’t wait: peep it while you can, folks.
Featured image via Variety
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