We follow the story of an aspiring rapper named, unsurprisingly, Patti (Australian actress Danielle Macdonald). She's a bartender, living in a small, crowded home with her mother Barb (Bridget Everett), a failed singer who spends her nights drunk at Patti's bar, and Barb's mum Nana (Cathy Moriarty), who's confined to a wheelchair and bored out of her mind. Life doesn't seem to be taking Patti anywhere. She listens to music, goes to work, faces fat shaming and bullying from her neighbours and comes home to a mother that doesn't care. Patti needs to do something. Fast. And that's when her best friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananhay) comes into play.
Nothing about Patti Cake$ is awfully original. Of its many subplots, they all come together quite nicely, but each of them feels familiar. You have a mother trying to destroy her child's dreams, a celebrity icon that may not be as kind as they seem, a musician struggling to overcome diversity and a home life that requires our protagonist to balance multiple jobs. Everything is familiar. And yet, they all fit together perfectly. They're matches made in heaven, culminating for an uplifting personal journey that's a little rocky, but ultimately worthwhile. It's a story with a predictable outcome, one that you could guess based purely on my synopsis, but that doesn't make it any less satisfying to watch unfold.
The whole thing is brilliantly crafted and well written. First time writer-director Geremy Jasper does have a few pacing issues, and there's a deliberate use of repetition throughout the plot that feels annoyingly... uh.... repetitive, but for a debut, certain aspects can be forgiven. Especially when it leads to a show stopping, heart racing and (happy) tear jerking finale. He brings charm and grace to the big screen, and allows Danielle Macdonald to shine in her breakout role. This is her film through and through. She's got the skills, the rhythm, the likability and the Australian-ness, which gives her a bonus ten points. Go Danielle!
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