Checking it out on my final day of the Vancouver International Film Festival, I wasn’t expecting the quiet and reserved chronicling of a New Jersey bus driver’s week which comprises Jim Jarmusch’s new film, Paterson. A beautiful story of an individual who is the calm center in a serene little town, Adam Driver gives one of the best performances I’ve seen him give, continuing his road to eventual and imminent Oscar gold. I hope his work in this film is deemed worthy of nomination, speeding the process. Those who have seen this film know that I’m not sucking up to one of my favorite quirky filmmakers or Kylo Ren himself. This movie may not be in your face or bombastic but it leaves a nice and lighthearted effect that will give you enough of a buzz to recommend it.
Driver plays the titular character, Paterson, who lives in Paterson, New Jersey. He drives a regular bus route Monday through Friday, and every night he goes home to his beautiful and slightly eccentric wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), an artist infatuated with black and white patterns and making new and out there culinary delights. There’s also Marvin, Laura’s cantankerous bulldog that Paterson walks every night to the local bar where he sits for a few beers with the bartender and owner Doc (Barry Shabaka Henley), who is passionate about his hobby as a local Paterson historian. Besides his wife and his daily routine, Paterson’s days are filled by the little notebook he carries around, writing his poetry whenever he can, filling out this portrait of a soft-spoken New Jersey resident living his day to day.
Jarmusch structures this film so that we see the progression of Paterson’s week, really getting a good perch on the character. The conflicts are everyday things but he manages to skirt by a lot of problems and confrontation, due to his good nature. Driver makes Paterson infinitely likable and someone cut from the very fabric of American blue collar life, someone you can get behind, relate to and root for. He may not be the most social of characters but his relationship with Laura is absolutely endearing. I honestly look forward to more from this friendship between Driver and writer and director Jim Jarmusch.
Jarmusch, more than he ever has before, leaves the weirdness at the door. I feel like I’ve used this term a lot in 2016 but Paterson is very much a slice of life film, where nothing happens that is outlandish or unbelievable. Instead, Jim Jarmusch brings his most relatable film ever, maybe the most unbelievable part is how unflappable Paterson is. Under the eye of director of photography Frederick Elmes (the man behind Blue Velvet), the story is allowed to breathe naturally, especially with those exact shots over Paterson and Laura’s bed to open each day. Jarmusch leaves you with the feeling that anyone you can come across in your daily life could be capable of unfathomable depths of soul, a sea of words beyond their social quietness. Paterson is a charmer of a film. 5/5