Patti Cake$, which won a standing ovation at Cannes, is the classic story of the underdog. Think Rocky crossed with 8 Mile. But this time the protagonist is a young woman struggling to escape a life of poverty and white trash.

Unknown Australian actor Danielle MacDonald stars as Patricia Dombrowski, nicknamed both Patti Cake$ and Killa P. Amazingly gifted as a rapper, Patricia spends her days working at a scummy bar while aspiring to lofty aspirations of making it big. The fact that she’s both white and female doesn’t seem to hinder her.

Patti lives with her mother, Barb (cabaret singer Bridget Everett, who acted in Inside Amy Schumer), a talented jazz singer who never got bigger than occasionally singing in the dive bar where Patti serves drinks; she initially offers Patti little support. Patti’s family also includes her nana (an unrecognizable Cathy Moriarty, from Raging Bull), ill and wheelchair bound.

It is sad to watch the epic multi-generational suffering that this family endures, and it’s a wider comment on how difficult it is to escape poverty and how ambition is hard to come by. Patti is determined to make a difference though; despite her lack of conventional beauty (she’s rather overweight), she’s not shy to make it in the entertainment business. Aided by her friend Hareesh (Siddharth Dhananjay), with whom she raps, she stays focused. Patti is eventually befriended by a mysterious character named Basterd the Antichrist (Mamoudou Athie), who has an underground recording studio. Through the support of her nana and friends, Patti decides to actively pursue a recording career while working other jobs that don’t go so well.

Much like the original Rocky, Patti Cake$ has a grimy, urban look; director Geremy Jasper, who also wrote the script and scored the film, has a background directing music videos, and it’s a background that obviously influenced his camera and editing choices. Many people may be turned off by the movie’s look, but don’t be. For Patti Cake$ is a truly inspirational tale that may inspire you. People didn’t have to be into boxing to appreciate Rocky, and you don’t have to be into hip hop to be inspired by this upcoming movie.

Is Patti Cake$ Essential Viewing?

Absolutely. The film isn’t getting a wide release, so make sure you go and see it while it’s in theatres. The music may requires a bigscreen treatment.

Patti Cake$ opens Friday, August 25, 2017 at Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas. Check their website for more information.

Patti Cake$ Trailer