Writer/director Jim Jarmusch leads the audience with the comforting clench of a warmly held hand into Paterson, New Jersey. For a week, we get to live alongside Paterson (Adam Driver), a bus driver and aspiring poet living with his quirky creative wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). Beneath this unassuming exterior is a beautiful tale of living a fulfilling existence.
Jarmusch finds the majesty in a routine, working class, suburban reality. We’re immersed by the machinations of Paterson’s (Driver) life. Waking times, breakfast, the walk to work and evening adjusting the mailbox on the return home. Reliable brick work, timeless rail bridges and Paterson’s sturdy local bar (that looks like it could withstand a blitzkrieg) provide an authentic and rich backdrop to Paterson. Like Only Lover’s Left Alive, Paterson is another Jarmusch film that celebrates American decay (Detroit though, in a much more pronounced way in Only Lovers).
Adam Driver’s Paterson is a warm soul, quietly refusing to follow the bustle of 2016 life, connected like a slave to online lures. A lover of poetry and literature he escapes from the repetition of his job by composing poems. Jarmusch uses graphics to project Paterson’s writing to the screen, complimented by Driver’s steady, soothing voice. There’s more dialogue in Driver’s poetic compositions than most of the rest of the film. Make no mistake, this is not poetry’s answer to Good Will Hunting; the poems are works in progress. Jarmusch and Driver blend Paterson into the furniture, taking moments to write about things in his life. You’re living vicariously alongside his observations and seeing how every interaction influences what he creates. Golshifteh Farahani’s Laura is incredible. While she’s a stay at home partner, one assumes without a job or a child (unless you count her fussy pooch), she’s a blossom of creativity. Every day she’s been struck by the impulse to design a garment, redesign some dressings in the house or paint something to fit with her overall black and white colour scheme. Scattered throughout the main house too are portraits she’s painted of her bulldog, a hugely important character to the film, that ultimately demonstrates their shared love and encouragement to make art.
Jarmusch doesn’t reveal his character’s cards in Paterson. Driver’s titular man for example, has a remarkably disciplined body clock throughout the film, and it’s only when an opportunity for heroics arises and you see his reaction do you get a glimpse of a picture of him in a marine uniform in his house. Barry Shabaka Henley, the barman, is the closest thing to a friend for Paterson and their frequent discussion topic is selecting famous people who represent Paterson. Jarmusch is a fiend for detail that unassumingly litter the screen.
Paterson is the most pleasant parasite. It will plant desires in your mind to disconnect, to nurture creativity, to relish modest working class town settings as spaces that give you space to create great art.
Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman
Directed by: Jim Jarmusch
Written by: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani
Adam Driver … Paterson
Golshifteh Farahani … Laura