The latest outing from Jim Jarmusch, Paterson stars the always wonderful Adam Driver as bus driver/poet Paterson who drives a public bus in Paterson, New Jersey. A celebration of small town life and its eccentricities. It is populated with wonderful peripheral characters and is a rambling eccentricity of a film that I enjoyed.
It’s a strange but engaging town Paterson, at once populated and deserted. Paterson eavesdrops on passengers on his bus, from little kids to men having imaginary encounters with women, he allows a wry smile as their words drift in and out of his ears. Paterson lives with his beautiful girlfriend Laura played by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani who is floating through various dreams such as cupcake empire or famous guitarist.
Paterson keeps his poems in a 'secret' notebook and as he scribbles them down the words appear on the screen in the manner of an anapaestic tetrameter (a what now? Si) and spoken by Adam Driver in the rhythm of the writing. Paterson’s poems seem influenced by his favourite poet Williams Carlos Williams who was born in Paterson and the film constantly references other poets and artists born there.
When Laura and Paterson are in bed at the beginning of the film, they discuss having twins. After this Paterson keeps seeing twins of all ages all over the city, which is both disconcerting and charming. Every night Paterson takes Laura’s dog Marvin out for a walk and stops for beer in the local bar, which is populated by fascinating characters, each going through their own micro dramas. The supporting cast are outstanding and add a rich texture to the film. My only gripe is that I found Laura as a character dull and peripheral.
Paterson is a lazy, sprawling sunny afternoon of a movie. Celebrating the everyday whilst pointing out that often the things that happen to us everyday are not routine and there is usually an event that makes each day individual. Paterson’s small world is not patronised or romanticised. Adam Driver delivers a beautiful low key performance but one that also shows the character’s journey. An event occurs at the end that is catastrophic to Paterson. The accident that happens may seem like a small one but in Paterson’s small world it is cataclysmic. It may be subtle but at the end Paterson is looking at his life in a different way and working out how to recover from a creative setback. It is a movie that is completely original and Jarmusch to the core.