Starring Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley, William Jackson Harper, Chasten Harmon
Jim Jarmusch will likely never be a mainstream director. His peculiar films aim for something the majority of ticket buyers are not interested in exploring on the big screen. His latest Paterson, captures a degree of narrative normalcy I have never seen articulated so well in American cinema. Adam Driver (Star Wars, Inside Llewyn Davis) delivers one of his best performances, as he continues to emerge as one of the most in-demand actors of the age. Paterson is chock full of poetic symbolism, some you will get, some you won’t, but for a film without struggle, conflict or an antagonist, it’s surprisingly entertaining. By the time you finally leave this sleepy little town, the viewer will feel it thoroughly explored and acquainted with the locals.
Paterson (Driver) was named after the small New Jersey suburb he calls home. His mornings are filled with one last snuggle against Laura (Farahani) before he seizes the day in the form of cheerios in a glass. A navy veteran, Paterson spends his work day driving a local commuter bus, where he soaks up sights and sounds from the passengers to fill the blank pages of his “secret book of poems”. He returns home each day to check the mail, walk to dog, and listen to whatever ambition Laura has dreamed up this day; while she paints the entire house in contrasting black and white. His evenings always end at a local bar, where he celebrates and contemplates artists who have made their mark on Paterson, NJ.
Contentment is the currency of Jarmusch’s Paterson. He explores the American dream in a vivid and truly identifiable way.
Contentment is the currency of Jarmusch’s Paterson. He explores the American dream in a vivid and truly identifiable way. If you described this film to a friend; following a poetry writing bus driver through an entire week of his life, you wouldn’t have people standing in lines to buy tickets. Yet Jarmusch’s authentic sarcasm produce some unforgettable characters, some who barely influence the story, others you can’t wait to see pop-up again in Paterson’s daily routine. It’s the idea of “routine” that Jarmusch manages so well to positively redefine. Driver and Farahani (Exodus: Gods and Kings) both deliver some of the best performances in the realm of independent cinema this year.
Paterson is easily Jarmusch’s most refined and developed work to date. His more divisive films Broken Flowers or previous Only Lovers Left Alive were more genre specific narratives that never completely came together in a single cohesive way. Paterson is the perfect marriage of humor, humanity and existence that didn’t always work previously. The splinters of comedy scattered throughout the movie are some of the most thoughtful and honest bits of satire I have come across this year. Jarmusch and casting directors Ellen Lewis and Meghan Rafferty also create a truly diverse cast that reflects the real world, even twins.
In a crowning achievement, Jarmusch explores blissful contentment with a superb performance out of Driver.