SXSW 2017: Patti Cake$ Review by Ashley Menzel
Patti Cake$ had its premiere at Sundance this year and was extremely well received. I was interested in seeing it so when it was at SXSW; I knew I needed to see it. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but I can happily report that it is on my top list for the festival. Patti Cakes or Patricia is a plus size 23-year-old girl living in New Jersey who aspires to be a rapper. Her home life is less than awesome with an alcoholic mother and a dying grandmother. Patricia works hard to support the family and take care of everything. In her spare time, she raps with her friend Jheri, and they have dreams of becoming superstars. Through the rap scene, they come in contact with the anarchist and artist, Basterd, The Antichrist (Mamadou Athie). Patti is persistent in trying to make music with him and Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay). She finally wears him down, and they work on their debut demo album under the title PBNJ. Running high off making their demo album, they work and try to get gigs to launch their careers.
Patti Cake$ is a great film that features unusual characters. It is so refreshing and different to see. Danielle MacDonald as Patti is fantastic. I was floored to learn that she is not only Australian but has never rapped before this film. She is perfection. Her range is fantastic from a really strong kick ass character to a devastated girl. It is so nuanced and perfect; I loved her! Siddharth Dhananjay as Jheri is phenomenal and is the perfect sidekick for Patti. Mamadou Athie is intense and great as Basterd. Cathy Moriarty who plays Patti’s grandmother Nana, and Bridget Everett who plays Barb, Patti’s mom are the perfect personification of New Jersey women. They are strong no bullshit women. It is so refreshing to see a film that features these strong women. They are not perfect by any means but are still strong in the face of troubling times.
The music is the film is off the charts. It is amazing to hear the beats and the rhymes that are in this film, and all the songs Patti raps are origins done by the director and writer Geremy Jasper. The music, especially some of the beats are things I’ve never heard and are creatively done. As someone who isn’t a huge fan of rap music, I got into the film and appreciated the creativity and performances behind it.
Visually, the film is great. It shows the nitty gritty of New Jersey as well as these punctuating scenes where Patti imagines herself as a superstar next to her idol, O-Z. The fog machines and the surreal aspect of those scenes are so well executed and transport you to this dream world.
Patti Cake$ is the story of an unlikely group of people trying to create something that is meaningful to them and share it with the world. Patti is a dreamer and someone who never gives up. Her determination, strong sense of self and tenacity is what makes Patti Cake$ an incredible film experience. The world that Geremy Jasper has created is real, grounded, and entirely engrossing. Patti Cake$ is not to be missed.