Director: Jim Jarmusch
Writer: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Nellie
Review by Gilbert Seah
PATERSON is the brilliant but quiet new film from Jim Jarmusch that focuses on a working-class poet (Adam Driver) in a small New Jersey town who practices his craft amidst the quiet magic of everyday life.
Those familiar with Jarmusch will be glad to notice the director’s traits from his early films present in PATERSON The wide camera panning of STRANGER THAN PARADISE and the dead pan humour of DOWN BY LAW are a few examples. But PATERSON is clearly his best film. Jarmusch captures the simplicity of an American small town and both the complexity and beauty of life amidst the daily routine of bus driver wannabe poet called Paterson in the town ale called Paterson.
Jarmusch shows that magic is where one finds it. The pleasures from the film derive from the audience’s observations of the film. For one, the film is a film about Paterson’s routine. It is a week in the life of Paterson beginning on a Monday and ending on the morning of the Monday of the following week. Paterson carries on his daily routine that includes getting up in the morning at the same time at 6:10 (though he wakes up late one of the days). He kisses his wife, eats the same breakfast of fruit loops and milk and goes to work at the bus garage where he drives the the bus of the same route everyday. When he gets home, he walks his dog, Marvin, and stops for a beer at the neighbourhood bar, chatting with the locals.
Amidst the driving and walking, he writes poems – beautiful and simple ones that the audience can relate to. All these might sound mundane, but Jarmsuch has created a really beautiful film, aided by his muse, actor Adam Driver, whose every facial expression registers his mood and emotion. The Toronto Film Critics Association awarded Driver the Best Actor Prize this year.
PATERSON is also a love story. The two lead a simple life of the same daily routines, but it is clear that they care for each other – deeply. It is tolerance and sensitivity that are the ingredients that make their love so strong. In one of his poems. Paterson says, I see other girls but if his wife were to leave him, he would tear his heart out.
It is also noticeable that Paterson is the happiest character in the film. The bartender Doc envies Paterson’s relationship with his wife. Everett, a local is heartbroken from unrequited love while his fellow bus driver, Donny is always full of personal and family problems. Everything seems to turn out right for Paterson, even his wife’s cupcake sale at the farmer’s market.
A key character in the story is surprisingly Paterson’s dog, Marvin. While Paterson straightens the post of his letter box very day after work, it is Marvin that topples it slanting every day when Paterson is at work. Marvin also chews up Paterson’s book of poems one day, an act that brings the film to its climax.
PATERSON turns out to be the perfect poetic film – visually as well as in the character’s writings. Effective, moving and thoroughly captivating, PATERSON is a a genuine feel-good movie without artificial sweeteners!
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