Patti Cake$ finds a genuine groove

Quintessential Sundance movie about a plus-sized white female rapper transcends its gimmick


PATTI CAKE$ (Geremy Jasper). 108 minutes. Opens Friday (August 25). See listing. Rating: NNNN


Casting a plus-sized white girl like Danielle Macdonald as an aspiring rapper may feel like an attention-grabbing stunt. You know, like a wheelchair-bound granny wearing a ski mask and throwing up deuces or a Black man inhabiting a Marilyn Manson persona.

These are all sights in Patti Cake$, a quintessential “Sundance movie” brimming with the kind of gimmicks and quirks that are proven to win over audiences at the high-altitude film festival.

But Macdonald is a phenomenal presence. Her Patti, a turbulent swirl of vulnerability and resilience, anchors the film when it threatens to get too flighty.

Patti may not have the best rhymes, but she’s a voice you want to pay attention to, especially when she begins to ditch the showy rap persona ticks and simply pays attention to her own life. Her volatile relationship with her mom (Bridget Everett) is endearing.

When Patti translates those details into her music, the film settles into its own groove. It’s far more genuine and moving than those gimmicks would lead you to believe.

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