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Patti Cake$

Geremy Jasper

Following in the footsteps of films like Sing Street and 8 Mile comes Patti Cake$, a story of the transformative power of music, this time set in the American suburbs and featuring a rap soundtrack.

Our heroine is Patricia ‘Killa P’ Dombrowski (Australian actress Danielle Macdonald), who lives with her alcoholic mother Barb (Bridget Everett) and ailing grandmother Nana (an unrecognizable Cathy Moriarty) in a rundown area of New Jersey. Sassy and independent, Patti’s tough exterior hides a fundamental lack of confidence in her own abilities. She works nights behind the bar at a local dive and spends her days writing rhymes and dreaming about stardom. But Patti and her rap partner/best friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay) are stuck in a rut, until an encounter with the reclusive and mysterious goth-metal musician Basterd (Mamoudou Athie), who might just give them the edge they need. Together with Nana, the unlikely trio start a band called PBnJ and record a demo. Their CD is then picked up by a local DJ, who nominates them for a local talent contest. Patti’s moment seems to have arrived, but will she have enough courage to grasp it?

Full of energy, Patti Cake$ tackles the classic ugly duckling story, telling it with such warmth and humour that it feels utterly fresh. Macdonald holds the film together with her combination of bravado and vulnerability, and you’ll be rooting for Killa P to make it all the way.