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If you ever left me I'd tear my heart out and never put it back.
Drama pairing the talents of independent filmmaking giant Jim Jarmusch and actor Adam Driver (TV's Girls, Inside Llewyn Davis). Nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes 2016.
"Paterson is a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey – they share the name. Every day, Paterson adheres to a simple routine: he drives his daily route, observing the city as it drifts across his windshield and overhearing fragments of conversation swirling around him; he writes poetry into a notebook; he walks his dog; he stops in a bar and drinks exactly one beer; he goes home to his wife, Laura. By contrast, Laura's world is ever changing. New dreams come to her almost daily. Paterson loves Laura and she loves him. He supports her newfound ambitions; she champions his gift for poetry. The film quietly observes the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details." (Cannes)
Winner of the Palm Dog (Nellie), 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
Drama, Festival & Independent
Rating: M Offensive language
Weird, magical details loom at the edges of Paterson, but they aren’t its main consideration. Director Jim Jarmusch is more concerned with celebrating ordinary people and the rituals that make up their days.
Adam Driver carries the film on his broad shoulders as Paterson, a bus driver who lives in Paterson, New Jersey. He writes poetry in his spare time, and lives with his wife Golshifteh Farahani, a woman dedicated to her own creative fulfilment. Conflict in the story is fleeting. They’re happy, and the film doesn’t judge them, and in the absence of narrative the film becomes a tone poem about Paterson’s life, the routines that make up his day, and the people around him, all artists in their own way.
It’s an ideal hangout movie because we see the world through Paterson’s eyes, and he finds everyone fascinating. He’s our incredibly likeable guide on a tour of New Jersey, listening to conversations go down unexpected avenues. Jarmusch lets small details, like a photo of Paterson wearing a naval uniform, speak volumes about how these characters ended up where they are.
Seeing a few hundred dollars treated like a big sum of money in an American film is downright refreshing these days, as are characters who are happy with their lives the way they are. If Paterson has a point, it’s anti-aspirational, a call for people to start enjoying life and all its mundanity, and discover the magical details that were there all along.
Time Out London
Little White Lies (UK)
Total Film (UK)
NZ Herald (Francesca Rudkin)
Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)
Jim Jarmusch's Paterson is probably one of the most beautiful films made in recent times. The poetry accounts for about 75% for this statement. Character intricacies such as Paterson not owning a smart phone, following a routine, Paterson's wife's diverse artistic ventures make for strangely intriguing watching. Though there is no major crisis or event which needs resolving, we see, through Paterson, small setbacks that are handled with considerable ease by means of what must be mindfulness or mindfulness techniques and just... love. This love, especially Paterson's for his wife and vice versa, materialises in the form of not just poetry but also acts of kindness to those living in his town - the rapper practising at the laundromat, the girl waiting by the garbage tip, Everett etc. Adam Driver is so great and will surely scale the heights of the Academy Awards for his work in the times to come.
A whimsical essay into the ordinariness of human existence
Jim Jarmusch films can be challenging and Paterson (2016) is no exception. Audiences who are accustomed to plot or character-driven stories will find themselves grappling instead with a mood in search of a reason. Without a genre label to help, we must work through an exploratory essay into the ordinariness of human existence elevated occasionally by the creative impulse to write poetry. If it sounds cerebral, then it’s a Jarmusch film.
Paterson (Adam Driver) is a bus driver in Paterson, USA. If that sounds odd, then it matches this whimsical story based on the typical week of a nondescript transport worker who lives not a life but a routine. His unchanging beige existence is in bold relief to his beautiful Iranian-born wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) who is artistically creative and continually reshaping her goals. Their lovable and irascible bulldog Marvin is the story’s primary source of humour. Paterson drifts into writing poems throughout his day, composing lines in his head, and sometimes his silken words appear as on-screen text framed by banality like an urban bus window. His free-flowing verses are a contrast to his symmetrical and ordered life. While Laura thinks they should be shared with the world, he is bashful about them because the sentences do not rhyme. The pattern of his days is always the same, punctuated by what happens to others rather than what happens to him. Quirky characters create capsule sketches that represent the mundanity of living: a woe-riddled supervisor, a broken romance, a curious Japanese tourist, overheard passenger conversations, and a broken down bus – all part of a quiet existential stream notable only for its inconsequence.
Narrative turning points work like signposts that tell us that something significant is about to occur in a story, but there are none here. Each time it appears possible that the story might progress in some interesting new direction nothing happens, perhaps to reflect how Paterson lives his life. There are layers of unreality across many scenes and the dialogue often feels as if it is being delivered at a script reading: clear diction, perfect rhythm, without emotion. This slight air of inauthenticity forms a backdrop for the sincerity and lyricism present in Paterson’s poetry. It may or may not be good poetry; that is not the point. It is about contrasting layers of reality and they are evident elsewhere, always with the same effect. When a small girl who also writes poetry says “Cool. My bus driver is a poet” we feel like responding: “well, why not?”; creativity hides everywhere.
Not everyone will stay with this film because of its minimalist pace, deadpan humour, prolonged silences, understated acting and noticeably sparse music to lift the emotional tone. It is devoid of regular cinematic artifice and feels like we have momentarily glimpsed into the inner space of a true gentle soul and can walk away the better for it.