Paterson (2016)

Jim Jarmusch celebrates the extraordinariness of ordinary life in Paterson, starring Adam Driver.

This Is Just To Say

by Alexa Dalby


CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Director Jim Jarmusch makes the ordinary look extraordinary in a week in the life of bus driver Paterson, who lives in Paterson, New Jersey – a Jarmusch joke perhaps. He lives a quiet domestic life with his Iranian-American wife, who decorates their home entirely in black and white patterns and decorates monochrome cupcakes, and their bulldog Marvin, who doesn’t like him. He walks Marvin to the local bar every evening, where he has one beer and chats to the owner (Barry Shabaka Henley) and an assortment of idiosyncratic characters. And he writes poetry. While waiting for his shift to start, in his lunch break by Paterson’s spectacular Great Passaic falls, at home in his basement office, his notebook and pen are always at the ready, celebrating the details of his life, even down to the design of a matchbox, like Paterson’s own home-grown poet William Carlos Williams.

Adam Driver (Inside Llewyn Davis) is Paterson, in a quietly understated performance. There are hints of his previous life that might explain his unassuming lifestyle now. Golshifteh Farahani (Finding Altamira is his hare-brained wife, always chasing some new fad or other, which Paterson patiently accepts. Their relationship seems unlikely but is kind and loving.

Each episode of the film is the start of a new day. All appear at first to be the same but all are slightly different. There are trials and tribulations and minor successes. Jarmusch observes them all and finds the poetry in the smallest details of Paterson’s life.

Paterson is quiet, low-key, meditative and deeply moving.

Paterson premiered at the 60th BFI London Film Festival and is released on 25 November 2016 in the UK.

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