Film Review – Paterson
The daily life of a bus driver in New Jersey and his wife is the focus of Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson. The film is a bit of a critics’ darling, receiving many accolades. If you watch the film’s trailer, it does not come off as anything special, but it has certainly had an effect on the audience, becoming one of the top films of 2016 for many.
Paterson follows a man named Paterson (Adam Driver) who was born in and lives in Paterson, New Jersey. To top it off, he drives one of the Paterson city buses. His wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) stays at home to work on her many creative endeavors or her cupcake business. Paterson is a poet, not in the collegiate or professional manner, but an everyman’s poet. He observes the world around him and those he comes into contact with on his bus, and writes poetry everyday based on them or his life every day. The film follows Paterson’s life for a week: his wakeup routine, interactions with his wife, his job, his breaks, his walks to and from work, writing poetry, walking the dog, and his nightly stops at the local bar owned by Doc (Barry Shabaka Henley).
Paterson is a film about the mundane and minutiae of everyday life, topped off with Paterson’s observations turned into his poetry. And the poetry element is what I can’t get onboard with, but this is only due to my dislike for the art form. Never understood it very well before (even with all the high school and college classes focusing on it) and seeing a film with poetry being one of the main characteristics is not a good mix for me. I have no issue with Jarmusch; I loved Only Lovers Left Alive. Unfortunately, if you make me go to a film focusing on poetry, I am not going to like it very much.
I do respect what Jarmusch is trying to do, seeing the beauty in the everyday moments of life. Thankfully he cast Adam Driver as Paterson, who is always a pleasure to see on screen no matter what he is doing (even if it is writing poetry). Golshifteh Farahani as Laura is the comedic relief with her constant black and white décor changes to the house and her need to learn guitar from Esteban (yeah, the infomercial guy). Laura throws some needed chaos into Paterson’s life, and it is in these moments that we know why he married her. Let’s not forget the pet bulldog, Marvin, either, who supplies Paterson with an excuse to visit the bar every weeknight, and seems to not appreciate Paterson’s affections toward Laura.
Paterson is an okay film. It’s a film whose likeability will depend on whom is watching it. If you don’t like poetry, you are probably going to want to skip it. If you want to see a film about everyday life that is acted and directed well, by all means go and see Paterson. It is one of those films that you can describe the plot to friends and they may say, “and?” It is a quirky, quiet film that has its audience, and one that will love it. But Paterson and its poetry is just not my cup of tea.