Jim Jarmusch, famous for his minimalist style, offers us a beautifully calm and substantial film with his latest, Paterson. Starring Adam Driver as the title namesake (who also lives in Paterson, New Jersey), his character is a bus driver who spends his days routinely waking up naturally, heading off to work, writing poetry and listening in on the lives of the customers he drives about. He doesn’t probe into their lives and try to be a part though; he simply absorbs what’s happening and gets on with his day-to-day existence.
Paterson lives with girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) and their amusing English Bulldog, Marvin. Although Laura is somewhat the opposite of him, she’s extrovertly creative and very open to sharing her dreams, they still seem to support and give each other space for their own passions. Laura is an interesting character because early on you could easily feel she’s scatty and a fantasist, over time it’s clear she’s talented with whatever she puts her mind to as she paints the house, creates designs and cooks regularly. Farahani plays Laura with utter charm, genuine empathy and appetite, her character cares deeply for Paterson and is eager to encourage him to share his poems publically, even though he’s happy keeping them to himself.
Adam Driver portrays Paterson as an insular soul but, equally, he’s kind and his work colleagues like him. For some he might have a cloak of sadness but I didn’t find the melancholic nature of his life that depressing, I found him to be contemplative and thoughtful. Maybe I connected with the creative side, the desire to write and explore both internally and externally but also the acceptance of being alive and feeling glad for what you’ve got – that thought becoming a line he even writes down in one of his poems. Driver’s Paterson is also always trying to do a little better with his writing but never fails to mention his love for those who’ve inspired me. This element echoes the thoughts of Jarmusch, who believes that everything is influenced by something, and that’s philosophy I could appreciate and comprehend.
There’s something deeply insightful about moving inside the life of someone who doesn’t demand things from everyone around them. In a world, both on and off screen, which speeds along with sharp opinion and instant judgments, Paterson asks you to step back and accept that there’s still plenty to learn from the regular, everyday people just trying to find their place. It’s been a long while since I watched a film that offers such an exceptional sense of peacefulness and focus. It’s beautifully crafted with photography that encourages you to sit back and immerse. It’s also expertly scattered co-starring roles for the likes of Rizwan Manji, Barry Shabaka Henley, Chasten Harmon, William Jackson Harper and Method Man who all bring a wonderful reality to their roles. Paterson is both delicate and inspiring and will thankfully embed in my mind for a long time to come.
Paterson is available on Digital, plus on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 27 March – Order it here: http://amzn.to/2nqaYls
NB: I also recommending checking out the Q&A with Adam Driver on the extras, it’s really insightful into his process of acting and a London-audience, I think it might be after a screening there, ask some great questions.