Jim Jarmusch is fast becoming one of my favourite film directors, the filmmaker is a veteran in the independent film scene building up a sizable filmography since making his debut in 1981. I haven’t watched every one of his films yet but of the ones I have seen, Paterson is currently in 1st place. There is a theme or feeling that runs through all of Jarmusch’s characters, they are outsiders, have flaws and never overstate their presence.
I guess that’s with I love Paterson so much, the film never makes a big deal about itself, the characters are regular people you come across every day and they get on with their life quietly. I should probably get onto the characters, our lead is Paterson played by Adam Driver he drives the bus for a living and writes poems on his lunch break.
His daily routine includes getting up at the same time every morning, eating the same cereal from the same bowl, getting his work gear on and walking the same route to work everyday. Paterson has a very pretty wife called Laura played by Golshifteh Farahani before he gets out of bed in the morning he always makes sure to kiss her goodbye.
To some the common complaint for this film would be that it is boring, nothing of consequence happens, no life changing lessons are learnt in at the end but for me that is what makes this film special. The movie’s story isn’t told in your typical movie way, the film follows our characters for a week starting on Monday and ending on Sunday with a new day being introduced as Paterson awakes from bed.
He is clearly happy and content with his situation which resonates with me every time a revisit the film. He appreciates the little things in his life, throughout the film as he is driving the bus he listens in on the amusing conversations some of his passengers have with each other, two workers discussing their relationships with women, or some university students talking about history he always observes these people with a wry smile. It is fascinating the wide range of people you encounter during your daily life.
Paterson is a quiet man, he doesn’t say much and perhaps that is why he writes poetry. He keeps his poems in a large notebook and writes in it whenever he can. His poetry ranges from the type of matches he uses “Ohio blue tip” to him expressing his affections towards Laura. Speaking of Laura, she seems to be the complete opposite of Paterson, she spirals from interest to next and doesn’t stick to it, one minute she’s into cooking, the next it’s music but from what I can gather she makes some damn fine cupcakes. She always encourages Paterson to publish his poetry but he appears reluctant.
Paterson & Laura are joined by their dog Malcolm, who Paterson hates. Every night, he finishes work, gets home, eats and then takes Malcolm for a walk. He always stop off at his neighbourhood bar, leaving Malcolm outside of course, where he chats to the bartender named Doc who is played brilliantly by Barry Henley.
The film is slow-paced but it never drags, these characters feel like normal people getting with their lives and Jim Jarmusch invites us in for a short time. Naturally some things gone awry for the characters, but the film never dwells on it, life can be a rigid slog but it can also throw us a curveball out of nowhere, Paterson never complains and just gets on with it.
The film doesn’t build up to an epic finale, some unfortunate things happen, but the film concludes with everything restarting and the life just keeps on going. I read quote from one review which sums up this film perfectly so I will steal it for myself, “Paterson observes the quiet triumphs and defeats of daily life” and this film is certainly a triumph.