Jim Jarmusch drama,
‘Paterson’. Lawrence reviews.
Spoiler: He likes it.
Not to be confused with the Patterson Film.
In Paterson (the movie), we spend a week in the life of Paterson (the character). Paterson (the character), lives in a small corner of Paterson (the town); we experience the latter through the former. Paterson (the character) works as a bus driver, and writes poems whenever he catches a moment. Paterson’s (the character) favourite poet is William Carlos Williams, who also grew up in Paterson (the town); William Carlos Williams’ epic, ‘Paterson’ (the poem) is a frequent reference in Paterson (the movie) as it features Paterson (the town), and resonates with Paterson (the character).
(Stop it. –Ed)
Paterson (Adam Driver) lives with his wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). Laura likes to paint unique patterns all over various parts of their house, likes to bake, and aspires to become a country singer. She’s an artist. Laura’s eccentricities often border on syndromic, and their conversations seem a little off as a result. Their morning pillow-talk is rather mumbly and Driver’s soft-spoken voice doesn’t help matters; at intimate moments there can be some difficultly discerning dialogue.
The movie at times feels, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, like a student film. As if the creators knew a few places around town near where they lived and thought it would be really killer if we could like, film a movie or something. Paterson himself is a creature of habit, and frequents the same haunts every day. This reuse of locations creates a rather comfortable sense of familiarity; by the end you really feel like you know this little corner of the Earth and the people who live in it.
This film isn’t a slow burn as much as it is a low-simmer. It would be unfair to say that nothing happens; things do happen, but the narrative is so understated and performances so restrained that even moments of great emotion seem subdued. The big scene of emotional catharsis before the epilogue consists of a mysterious Japanese man appearing, reigniting Paterson’s creative spark, handing him a new notebook for his poetry, and disappearing. It sounds a little hackneyed, but a charming script and strong performances sell it.
Offbeat and cosy, Paterson is a relaxing film to wind down to. However this is a minimalist experience; whilst an easy recommendation for the wordsmiths among you, if you’re the kind of person who likes big things to happen in your movies, you’re in for a long two hours.
Paterson contains a big fat shout-out to The Stooges halfway through the film. Paterson was directed by Jim Jarmusch, who this year also directed Gimme Danger, a documentary all about The Stooges, reviewed by our very own Shane here.