The Australian - - ARTS -

Patti Cake$ (M) Danielle Mac­don­ald (pic­tured right, with Sid­dharth Dhanan­jay), in her first ma­jor role, gives a stel­lar per­for­mance as Patti, aka Killer P, a work­ing­class girl from the sub­urbs of New Jersey who lives with her mother, Barb (Bridget Everett), a for­mer singer, and her grand­mother (Cathy Mo­ri­arty). There isn’t much money in this all-fe­male house­hold and Patti will do just about any­thing to earn a dol­lar; she works as a wait­ress and some­times as a courier, but all she re­ally wants to do is to per­form hip-hop. There’s no dis­guis­ing the fact that Patti, a dreamer whose dreams are de­picted in vividly gar­ish colours, is over­weight, but she has a warm heart. Her best friend is Ha­reesh (Dhanan­jay), who works in re­tail, and they per­form to­gether with a reclu­sive African-Amer­i­can punk rocker in a group they call PBNJ. The arc of the nar­ra­tive, ba­si­cally a tra­di­tional rags-to-riches story, is pretty fa­mil­iar. This story of the un­der­dog find­ing suc­cess fre­quently soars thanks to Mac­don­ald’s ex­plo­sive per­for­mance. I can’t tes­tify as to the ac­cu­racy of her New Jersey ac­cent, but Amer­i­cans seem to think it’s spot-on. What’s en­tirely in­dis­putable is the en­ergy and charm she brings to the char­ac­ter. She car­ries the movie, and that’s no small feat for a new­comer. I’m sure we’ll be hear­ing a great deal more from her. DAVID STRAT­TON

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