Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Starring Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani
Over 8 days, we follow the routines of bus driver and poet Paterson, who shares his name with the town he lives in.
Adam Driver plays Paterson, a young, shy and retiring ex-serviceman and bus driver, living with his far more extrovert wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), who obsessively decorates their house in black and white paint, and has aspirations for both Paterson’s poetry career and her own as a future
Country music star. Paterson’s life is a simple one of easy going routine; he wakes up next to the woman he loves, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, walks his dog, and visits his local bar. Paterson’s poetry exists in just one notebook that he carries around with him all day (with poems for the film supplied by famed poet Ron Padgett), as he takes in the beauty of the small details in his life such as half-heard conversations on his bus, and the intricate design of his favourite brand of matches.
Jim Jarmusch likes to wax lyrical about big human enigmas in most of his films, but in the light, minimal character study Paterson, he says some succinct and profound things about love, purpose and marriage. Jarmush is aided in no small part by Adam Driver’s subtle, nuanced, career best performance as the titular character. Golshifteh Farahani is lovably kooky as Laura and is a great counterpoint to Paterson; she is as spontaneous, impulsive and creatively ambitious as Paterson is insular, soulful and at peace in the comfort of his routine. In fact, the only times any genuine conflict arises are when Paterson’s routine breaks, much like all our lives. There’s a foreboding sense that Paterson’s quiet nature, and failure to communicate will collide with Laura’s outspoken frustrations about Paterson’s lack of ambition further down the road. Paterson’s ominous looking and downbeat dog provides many of the laughs, the supporting cast also contribute humour and sadness in equal measure, such as a love-sick barfly, a child poet and the numerous passengers Paterson listens to.
There’s an early scene in a bar that Paterson frequents, that sums up much of the profound nature of Jim Jarmush’s ode to existentialism. The bar-owner plays a game of chess against himself while proclaiming that his ‘ass is being kicked’, it cuts to a beer. Is the glass empty or half-full? This is the question at the heart of Paterson. Paterson doesn’t need people to tell him that his poetry is good or meaningful, it exists solely to help him bask in the beauty of the small details that make his small life seem that much larger.
As warm and life affirming as it is subtlely melancholic and foreboding; Paterson’s glass is both half-empty AND half-full. Regardless of your perspective on that, Paterson is an important film that nourishes the soul.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Mark Bartlett– Follow me on Twitter @deadlyfoe