Paterson is a real rarity. It’s a film of minor pleasures that feels abundantly full. A film where very little happens yet as the viewer you are never bored and content with simply letting it pass by. It’s a film that could only have been made by a master like Jim Jarmusch whose grasp of characters, details and little nuances is unmatched by any filmmaker in the world.
Paterson isn’t an easy film to sell. It’s follows a week in the life a bus driver and poet called Paterson (Adam Driver) who lives in the town of Paterson, New Jersey. And focuses on just his everyday interactions with his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), common people and his dog Marvin. It does not have any real conflict or climax, yet not a single moment feels unnecessary or unnatural. Jarmusch’s films have never been about plot, but rather characters, around whom he builds the plot and story. And no film of his is a better example of that than Paterson.
Also like much of Jarmsuch’s previous work, it’s beauty lies in the smallest of details. I have never considered myself much of a fan of poetry at all, but the film made me appreciate every verse that Paterson scribbles down on his little notebook. Heck, it made me reflect on and appreciate the little things in my life. The entire film has an effortless fluidity to it. It’s meticulously crafted and has this zen-like universality where things repeat themselves in the quirkiest and most subtle ways, that are further peppered by Jarmusch’s signature dead-pan humor.
But I suppose the best thing about this film is how it finds beauty in everyday routine life and the mundane. Ultimately, it’s an ode to just getting out of bed every day and doing what you do, as well an observant portrait of the creative process.
The film rests heavily on Adam Driver’s shoulders who gives a performance that can only be described as a masterwork of understatedness. And again, it’s the tiny things that make his performance stand-out as such a marvelous piece of acting; how soft-spoken he is, where he looks, when he smiles, how loudly he laughs. And as much tender affection as Paterson shares with his wife, the real chemistry in the movie is between Driver and the dog, Marvin, who is just about the cutest and most expressive dog you’re ever likely to see on-screen.
Tender and moving, lyrical and authentic, whimsical, in its view of the world yet also grounded in reality, Paterson is something truly special. It’s laid back and relaxed in a way only a Jim Jarmusch film could be which only adds to the serene pleasure of watching it.
I never wanted it to end.