A suburban rapper longs for escape in this upbeat indie movie with a star turn from Danielle Macdonald. She’s 23-year-old Patricia Dombrowski, a New Jersey native who’s created an alter-ego, Patti Cake$. A brash hip hop artist, she chiefly exists in Patricia’s dreams, though they’re fantasies shared by her best friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay). Following a street freestyle battle, she and Jheri start a plot to hit the big time.
But this is no simple wish-fulfilment exercise: obstacles include a wheelchair-bound grandmother (Cathy Moriarty), a drunken mother (Bridget Everett), unemployment and hostile locals who nickname Patricia ‘Dumbo’. This all plays out in dive bars, car parks, strip joints and suburban homes. The tone balances realism and optimism, with the accent on the latter: it has an uplifting, defiant-misfit mood that’s easy to compare with fellow Sundance hit ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. Macdonald delivers a winning blend of fighting spirit and vulnerability – you’ll be rooting for her gang all the way.