PATERSON (USA/TBC/113mins)
Directed by Jim Jarmusch. Starring Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, William Jackson Harper, Kara Hayward, Frank Harts, Barry Shabaka Henley, Method Man
THE PLOT: Paterson (Adam Driver) still lives in the town he grew up in, a town he was named after. Driving buses for a living, and living a seemingly charmed life with a girlfriend who loves him, a dog who doesn’t and a nightly routine of going for a drink in the same bar, while out walking the dog. So why can’t this aspiring poet write?
THE VERDICT: The first of Jim Jarmusch’s films screening at Cannes – the second being the Stooges flick ‘Gimme Danger’ – ‘Paterson’ is a quiet, loving and engaging examination of life in a small New Jersey town, as well as creativity and ambition in this beautifully shot film.
Adam Driver seems to relish the chance to play a quieter character on screen than we have seen from him of late; Paterson is a man quite content with his life, who enjoys listening to the conversations between people on the bus he drives, and sitting by the waterfall on his lunch break, while trying to write poetry like his hero William Carlos Williams. Driver makes Paterson sweet and gentle, with a charm and charisma that draws people to him; he is unobtrusive and slow to anger, but quick to defend others in situations where he can. Driver makes Paterson magnetic with a wonderfully understated and quiet performance.
Golshifteh Farahani plays Paterson’s girlfriend Laura, a veritable whirlwind of energy and creativity when compared to her more pensive boyfriend. Always painting, baking or expressing a new lifelong dream that Paterson has seemingly never heard before, Farahani has no qualms about making Laura seem superficial and flighty as she flits from one idea to another, often in the same sentence, and over the course of a week, paints almost everything in the house black and white, including the curtains and her dress. The rest of the cast features William Jackson Harper, Kara Hayward, Frank Harts, Barry Shabaka Henley and Method Man.
Jim Jarmusch’s screenplay follows Paterson over the course of a week; showcasing the routine of his work day life – work, lunch, dinner, walk the dog, drink – but also the sweetness that comes in these moments; of waking up in the morning and hearing your partner tell you their dreams, listening to conversations about the history of the town and sitting by the waterfall while eating lunch and writing. Jarmusch also showcases the calmness of the title character, while throwing adversity at him that he takes in his stride, and only ever struggling to come up with engaging poerty.
As director, Jarmusch allows ‘Paterson’ to be a slow film that is content with observing the title character’s day to day life. While slow, the pacing of the film works in showing the repetitive nature of daily life, and is almost lyrical in the manner the days flow through the film. The performances are all strong, even the smallest ones are engaging and contribute to the overall feel of the film. As well as this, Paterson is beautifully shot, showing off the beauty of this small New Jersey town and the pleasures to be found in the everyday.
In all, ‘Paterson’ is a beautiful observation of life, of love and the desire to create not always translating into actual creativity. Adam Driver leads a strong and engaging cast, and carries the quietness of the film easily. Paterson is a beautiful contrast to Adam’s previous films, and a film that may make audiences appreciate the beauty found every day.
RATING: 4/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

Cannes Review - Paterson
Review by Brogen Hayes
4.0Quietly lyrical
  • filmbuff2011

    Undoubtedly a Jim Jarmusch film, Paterson is another of his stories about the beautiful ordinariness of daily life. Think along the lines of Broken Flowers with added poetry, a grumpy dog and cupcakes.

    Paterson (Adam Driver) is a bus driver who lives in the New Jersey town of Paterson. Named after the town that he was born in, the film charts a week in his life. He follows a daily routine, waking up in the morning beside his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). She’s a colour co-ordinated woman, with nearly everything around her being black and white in different patterns, including her cupcakes. She’s also an aspiring country and western singer (cute). While waiting to start his shift, Paterson composes lines of non-rhyming poetry. He also writes on his lunchbreak, with his new poetry inspiration being a box of matches. When he comes home, he walks his bulldog Marvin (Nellie) to the local bar, where he gets a beer and chats to barman Doc (Barry Shabaka Henley). Later in the week, his bus breaks down and a gun is pointed at him. But that’s not too important. He’s content just being himself and following his daily rhythms…

    If you’re familiar with Jarmusch’s films, then you’ll know what to expect here. Paterson is a film that takes its time to chart a week in this bus driver / poet’s life. The town of Paterson is significant, considering all its famous sons, including noted poet William Carlos Williams. The character Paterson is aspiring to something similar, his poetry having a quality to it that is half-storytelling, half-lyrical. It doesn’t rhyme, but it doesn’t need to. Even he could find something beautiful to say about a practical everyday item such as a box of matches.

    The framing device of having Paterson also viewed through interactions with other characters is interesting. While his boss drones on about his constant personal problems, Paterson is happily content. Laura obsesses over making cupcakes and learning the guitar, but it’s clear that she loves him. Even Marvin has a part to play, with Nellie standing out as one of the year’s best dog performances along with the one in Todd Solondz’s equally distinctive but oddball Wiener-Dog. An encounter with a Japanese man during Paterson’s lunchbreak is also another perspective. Driver and Farahani make a cute couple, their relationship credible and committed.

    That said though, the film doesn’t really go anywhere. If anything, it mostly goes in a circle, following a Monday to Monday cycle. There are no life-changing events or developments here, no defining moments and little character development to move Paterson out of his rut. Jarmusch isn’t really interested in having a character arc here, which is a fault in the film. Like his main character, Jarmusch is content to just let his character be. It’s not a huge fault, but this reviewer would have expected a bit more from Jarmusch. At almost two hours, it could be a little shorter too. However, Paterson is a quietly contemplative film that has some meaningful things to say about how we go about our daily lives. For fans of Jarmusch and the curious. ***