Chances are if you grew up close to any sort of urban area, you knew somebody with grand ambitions of becoming a rapper. Since the hip hop genre became so mainstream, the luxurious life of a famous rapper has called out to young kids the world over. There have been countless films portraying this ambition, whether they be fictional or biopics of real life hip hop success stories like 2015’s Straight Outta Compton. Patti Cake$ is the latest film to take on this archetype, and it’s indie charm gives way to it’s successes.
A hopeful rapper named Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$, who is fighting an unlikely quest for glory in her downtrodden hometown in New Jersey.
Patti Cake$ is a pretty standard story for dreamers. The movie starts off with Patricia daydreaming about rapping with her idol on stage. It then cuts back to her impoverished life, living at home with her mom and sick grandmother. She works catering and bartending jobs to make ends meet and help out with the medical bills. She hands out with her friend Jheri, trying to make a name for themselves in the local rap scene. After awhile, they make a group called PBNJ and push their very first mixtape.
Director Geremy Jasper (Outlaws, 2015) has done something marvelous with his second directorial effort. This is one of the most human films of the year. The characters are relatable and carry weight through every scene in the story. It has a even spread of comedy and drama to not feel like it gets too bogged down in either element. The dream sequences are fantastic and do not feel too gimmicky. Some of the tracks are truly great songs.
The cast is truly the standout element of the film. Danielle Macdonald (American Horror Story, The Middle) provides a stellar performance as the titular character. She brings equal amounts of swagger and vulnerability the underscore her determination and struggle to want to make it as a rapper. Bridget Everett (Trainwreck) brings an emotionally heavy performance as Patti’s mom, being the ever stern mother figure that does not always support her daughters dreams because of her own jaded view on the world. The rest of the players in the rap scene and PBNJ help bring to life the variety in the New Jersey music scene.
The film feels very true to life in the adversity one would face trying to make it as a rapper. Everyone wants to think they are an artist, but a lot of the time they are just emulating what they think sells. This is one of the recurring struggles with a bunch of the characters in the film, and ultimately adds a lot of humanity to the film.
Patti Cake$ is another film that proves it is a great time for indie filmmaking. It’s a brilliant human story with very real characters. The cast is incredible and fully expected to go on to bigger and better roles. This is one of the indie films of the summer that absolutely has to be seen.
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