It can be pretty lonely if you’re the creative type. I’d expect Jim Jarmusch would be among those people that live in a form of solitude as a famous writer/director/intellectual. Paterson is a deep exploration into the vast silence of loneliness and the poetry in the world around you. With a star like Adam Driver on the screen, it’s interesting to see the kind of performance that Jarmusch is able to get out of him. Film fans would probably say that Jarmusch has a distinct style. I’d say he shows that here, but it’s almost like style without much style at all. Stripped down and elegant, Paterson has a deceptively complex story to tell in a very simple package.
Adam Driver stars as Paterson. Working as a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey, he writes during his breaks and gets home to his slightly eccentric wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) and their English Bulldog, Marvin (the late Nellie). Throughout the film, we’re treated to seven days of Paterson’s routine and the slight changes throughout them. Paterson’s visits to the bar at night are among the highlights of these moments. We’re with Paterson as he listens on to conversations on the bus, has dinners with his wife and dog, and the arguments and conversations between the bar patrons and owner. It would be dismissive to say that nothing happens in the film. There are no traumatic life changing events, but there are changes of the psyche. Paterson is about a journey of acceptance.
Like any Jarmusch film, the mood is key in creating something that plays out like this film does. Methodically paced (not boring, but slow), Jarmusch allows us to be on the journey with the character and reckon some form of understanding of his surroundings. Every piece of music, every shot, every line of dialogue feels like a piece of a puzzle that can be deciphered to reveal the outlying issues in the title character’s life, but Jarmusch allows you to feel that as well. Without the specific actors and moments provided, Paterson would lack the richness that brings it to a third dimension.
It’s not hyperbole when I tell you that every single person in this cast is fabulous. I wasn’t sure about Adam Driver at first. His character feels stilted at first, but that plays itself out throughout the film. I’m officially a fan of Golshifteh Farahani despite her character being treated as someone that is dumber and lacks the talent that Paterson has. I have no problem with this kind of arc, but the film treats her character as a joke almost all the way throughout and leaves their relationship with a condescending tone. Thankfully, this is ratified near the end, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth.
Ultimately, Paterson works because it’s aware of what it’s doing. We have to make the choice to continue doing what we love with the possibility of it never coming to anything, or stop doing that thing that makes us feel whole and complete entirely. Jarmusch and Driver understand this character so well. Not since Inside Llewyn Davis has a film about the struggle of artistry felt so real and sincere. If you feel like you have a story to tell, let it out. Even if the world feels like it’s against you. Even if you feel you don’t have talent. Some things need to be seen and heard. Paterson is one of them.
- Adam Driver delivers another stand-out performance as Paterson
- Jim Jarmusch's style is still evident and works as well as it ever has
- Shout out to the late Nellie, the best dog performance in years
- All cast members, in fact, are really outstanding and worth conversation
- Golshifteh Farahani's character feels unfairly treated and used as a joke for a large portion of the film