Review: Patti Cake$ / Amy

Patti Cake$ directed by music video director Geremy Jasper screened at the Sydney Film Festival this year. This film received a lot of attention and hype at the Sundance film festival and was purchased by Fox Searchlight, it was a movie that many other major film companies competed for.

Danielle MacDonald is Patti Cake$ otherwise known as Patricia Dombrowski, a marginalised 23 year old amateur rapper, who idolises her favourite rap star Oz, a character based on the popular rappers of today’s music industry. Patti Cake$ focuses on writing and ‘spitting’ (as referred to in the film), her rhymes.

She tries to avoid the mediocrity of her life as an only child with an alcoholic single mother (Bridget Everett), who is difficult to deal with. As well as a loving, headstrong Grandmother (Cathy Moriarty) who is slowly dying from an illness and Patti’s mother cannot pay her increasing hospital fees. Patti Cake$ works in a tacky decrepit bar, with a tawdry clientele and desperately wants to launch her career to stardom. She shares this dream with Hareesh (Siddharth Dhananjay), her best friend and No. 1 supporter.

In Patti’s town she is often humiliated, isolated and insulted by people of her generation. They don’t respect her rapping skills, they tease and call her Dumbo due to her appearance. The lack of respect that Patti and Hareesh experience only motivates them further, to reach their dream. Patti is intrigued by Bob, a character who is unique, mysterious, silent he does not succumb to the criticism of his peers and therefore, does not interact with them. As Patti persists in becoming his friend they eventually form a band with Hareesh and Patti’s Grandmother, a unique collaboration that combines crowd-pleasing humour with Patti and Hareesh’s rap talent as well as Bob’s technical skill at his makeshift mixing desk.

As writer/director of the film and composer of Patti’s rhymes, Geremy Jasper has created a film that is loosely based on the stories of his childhood in New Jersey. To portray Patti Cake$, Jasper looked to Australian actress Danielle MacDonald. Her performance in the film was raw, tough and authentic and the immense amount of research and practice that she completed for her role was extraordinary. MacDonald’s performance received praise and commendation for the talent that she presented in the film. Even though, Patti Cake$ was a fantastic movie with an unique story, there was the obvious use of the indie/underdog formula, often used to amuse a widespread audience. Even so, the performances of the characters were fairly multi-dimensional and added to the validity of the story.

Patti Cake$ is a film that allows the underdog to succeed, a classic formula that makes every audience cheer. Geremy Jasper conveyed the happenings of his childhood into a film mixed with comedy, heart and charm.

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