“PBNJ, PBNJ,….” It’s an anthem you can’t get out of your head, that’s for sure. Geremy Jasper’s first feature film Patti Cake$ was an instant success at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017, receiving a standing ovation. The film premiered at the Sundance Festival on January 23rd this year and could be called a ‘Sundance Charmer’. The music and acting performances are what make this indie drama outstanding.
Patti Cake$ tells the story of Patricia Dombrowski (Danielle MacDonald), a 23 year-old curvy girl usually mocked at by the name of Dumbo. She is fighting her quest for fame and fortune in her hometown New Jersey as an aspiring rapper a.k.a. Killa P. Along with her Indian best friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay) and the anti-social Basterd (Mamoudou Athie) she makes rap music to get out of that place.
Mother Barb (Bridget Everett) is a former singer in a rock band. Their mother-daughter relationship is very rough, with Patti mostly relying on her grandmother (Cathy Moriarty, who is known for her part in Scorsese’s 80’s classic Raging Bull). Patti’s Nana also contributes to the earworm “PBNJ” and seems to be the only one who believes in Patti’s ambitions, whereas Barb does not consider rap music to be real music. The 3 generations-family has financial struggles, for which Patti has to work fulltime. But together with her friends she can record a first hip-hop record anyway.
Danielle MacDonald hadn’t rapped a single tone before she stepped into the role of Killa P. Nonetheless, it looks like she’s born “spittin’ ” Did you know Danielle is not even American? She is Australian, but her accent is remarkably flawless. She definitely is the breakout star of this film.
Director Geremy Jasper is known for directing videoclips, like Florence + The Machine’s Dog Days Are Over. Although he frequently adds dreamlike and fantastic visuals, his debut leans towards realism, because of its poignant and identifiable narrative.
Patti Cake$ has a happy ending, which turns it into a feel-good film, whereas the film is very emotionally loaded throughout, almost cathartic. Slowly, but sustained Patti earns the respect she deserves. Her ‘spits’ reach an audience and eventually, she even finds love. Kind of cliché unfortunately, but hey, Patti deserves her happy ending…
Patti Cake$ is an emotional rollercoaster, telling you to never give up on your dreams and ambitions. Even how hopeless your life seems, you can make your dreams come true.
Patti Cake$ will be released in Belgium on August 30th.