Paterson Review


Director: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani

Jim Jarmusch is back with his new film Paterson. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the American director. I loved his film Dead Man with Johnny Depp (one of his most underrated performances), I also have a lot of love for his film Broken Flowers which features a wonderful turn from one my favourite actors of all time, Bill Murray.

However, I’ve found some of Jarmusch’s other works to be a little bit on the boring side. This was the case with Only Lovers Left Alive and Limits of Control. This is probably why I went into Paterson feeling a little bit trepidatious, because from what I had heard of the film, it certainly had the potential to be slightly dull. Well, I’m happy to report that this was not that case.


Adam Driver as Paterson, in Paterson

I’m O.K.

Paterson is a story about a man called Paterson (Adam Driver), a bus driver in the small New Jersey town of Paterson, who also likes to write poetry in his spare time. The film follows his life over the course of a week, from Monday to the following Monday, and that’s about it really. One could sum up the film’s plot as follows: Adam Driver plays a bus driver called Paterson, who lives in Paterson, in a film called Paterson. He lives in a bungalow with his girlfriend, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), and her pug Marvin.

There isn’t really much in the way of a plot, which is why I approached the movie with caution, however, what it does have are three engaging and realistic central characters, played by wonderful actors, including Nellie the pug who plays Marvin. The only acting canine that I can remember being as captivated by onscreen was Uggie in 2011’s Oscar winning film, The Artist.


Nellie as Marvin the pug

I don’t like you, Marvin

It’s my opinion that Jim Jarmusch’s best films rely heavily on their leads: Johnny Depp in Dead Man and Bill Murray in Broken Flowers for instance. This is the case with Paterson, which features a perfectly nuanced and captivating performance from Adam Driver. From the minute I saw him wake up on that first Monday morning, I believed him as a bus driver in this small American town.

Adam Driver has one of those faces you just can’t stop looking at, and he has a very peculiar voice which I just can’t stop listening to. A lot of the film is taken up by Paterson’s poetry, which Driver narrates whilst the text appears onscreen. It isn’t anything spectacular, but it just feels right, almost necessary. I was particularly taken by the scenes in which Paterson was driving his bus and listening to his passengers’ conversations. Paterson’s reactions to what he was overhearing echoed my sentiments about what was being said perfectly.


Paterson and Laura at the movies

Would you rather be a fish?

Adam Driver is backed up brilliantly by Golshifteh Farahani as Laura. Despite her rather odd fixation with painting everything black and white, Laura is a kind and loving partner to Paterson. This was another aspect of the film I enjoyed, its representation of a loving couple. It manages to portray this without being overly cheesy.

It’s sweet, but not saccharin, there’s nothing artificial about their relationship, or at least I didn’t think so. The way they care about one another moved me quite profoundly on many occasions. There’s a scene in which Laura makes him a cheese and Brussels sprouts pie, which sounds as disgusting as it must have tasted, but Paterson pretends to enjoy it so that he doesn’t hurt her feelings.

Even though the central premise does sound as if it could end up being boring and slow, Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson never is. Instead, it’s an accurate representation of a simple and real life, filled with monotony, love and beauty. Paterson’s daily routine does seem boring and repetitive, but he’s able to create fascinating poetry out of it, and sees the beauty all around him, whether it’s in a box of matches, a waterfall, or the woman he loves.

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