Sundance Review: 'Patti Cake$' rocks the mic and stirs the soul
(KUTV) Following the premiere of "Patti Cake$" at the Sundance Film Festival Geremy Jasper's story about a girl's hip-hop dream to escape the wastelands of New Jersey became the talk of the town. I was aware of the film, but hadn't included it in the handful of films that I wanted to see at this year's festival. The overwhelmingly positive reaction from critics and audiences alike had me rearranging my schedule to catch the Salt Lake City screening of the film. I wasn't alone as the standby line stretched through the Broadway Centre Theatre's lobby and out into the street.
It took me awhile to warm up to the film. Danielle Macdonald's performance as Patricia Dombrowski (a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$) and her cohort Jheri (Sid Dhananjay) were certainly interesting, but their rags-to-riches dream felt a little too familiar. Patti's impoverished roots, dysfunctional family and little to no hope for a happier future are well established and dangerously tired storylines.
Then, somewhere along the line, I found that I was completely invested. Maybe it was the introduction of Basterd (Mamoudou Athie), a misfit musician with goth-metal leanings, or maybe it was the brutal rap battle between Patti and a local show-pony rapper that she was crushing on or the development of Patti's relationship with her grandmother, but by the time Patti found herself face to face with her idol I was completely on Patti's bandwagon.
Yes, this is a story of persistence and dedication. It is a film about failure and fighting against the desire to completely give in and give up. It's story might not be the most original, but it is written and performed with such authenticity that it was impossible to not fall in love with it. Its strength is in the way he handles relationships and the rivalries that develop between Patti's closest friends as well as those who stand in the way of her dreams. It's in the way that Jasper has crafted the various songs. As an audience you believe in Patti. You recognize her talent as something real and not just a plot device. You're involved and share in Patti's emotional victories and defeats. That's exactly what I want from my visits to the cinema. "Patti Cake$" is the sort of film that might go under the radar if the Sundance Film Festival didn't exist. Fortunately for us, the festival is alive and well and Fox Searchlight will be sharing "Patti Cake$" with the world later this year.