Paterson Is Dazzling In Its Quietness


Photo Courtesy of Variety.

Indie legend Jim Jarmusch has delivered his best with his thirteenth feature, Paterson. Adam Driver stars as a modest, unassuming bus driver named Paterson in Paterson, New Jersey. He also enjoys writing poems. His wife is played by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani. She is an artist, always chasing a new dream. The plot of Paterson is thin, but it’s still a dazzling, meditative feature.

Paterson follows one week in its namesake’s life. Each day is just about the same. He wakes up, without an alarm, while his wife sleeps in. He makes himself breakfast, walks to work, writes down a poem before he drives off on his route, and passes the time thinking about poetry ideas and listening to the various little conversations of passengers. He walks home, pretends to like his wife’s new cooking experiment (like a pie filled with cheddar and brussel sprouts), walks his curmudgeonly pug Marvin, stops at his favorite bar for a beer and starts all over again. Even when Paterson isn’t driving the bus, he’s always observing the people around him, like a couple in a bar or an aspiring rapper in a laundromat. He seems to be the only one who can see the beauty in his city.

Of course, none of this could work without Adam Driver’s understated performance. He makes Paterson quiet, patient and always deep in thought. Farahani is great too, balancing a character who is both charming and frustrating. Her enthusiasm about learning guitar, for example, is very endearing. However, it’s only her husband who brings (seemingly little) income to their family, and she insists on buying an expensive guitar, even though this fascination might fade quickly. Patterson is always supportive and calm though. The two balance each other out nicely: He’s an introvert and she’s an extrovert. That keeps the film from ever dragging.

When Paterson’s weekend finally arrives, there are no drastic changes. He still wakes up early, helps his wife, writes his poems and walks Marvin. It’s a rigid routine, but he seems content. It’s only through his poems that we see what’s really on his mind. When the poems are recited, we find that he’s very happy with his life. It’s a surprisingly optimistic film for Jarmusch. However, fans of his other films won’t be disappointed because he doesn’t go for cheap sentiment. He adds his philosophical nature to the simple premise. There’s nothing flashy and there’s nothing false. Driver helps Jarmusch realize a very sincere project. It’s one of the best movies of the past year.

4 out of 4 Dolphins