Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema | Style in Film
Adam Driver is a bus driver and poet named Paterson in the city of Paterson, New Jersey, which was home to the poet William Carlos Williams, one of whose most famous poems is titled Paterson… Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s just say that Jim Jarmusch is in top form with this wonderfully funny and warm meditation on the quotidian details of one loving couple’s (extra)ordinary life together. That the film—gorgeously shot by Frederick Elmes, and perfectly played by Driver and Iranian star Golshifteh Farahani as the couple in question—is also a quietly stirring homage to the affirmative power of art makes this something to be savoured.
Paterson gets up each day and drives his bus, while drawing inspiration for the poetry he shyly loves to write from the ostensibly mundane things that occur while he is on his route. His wife Laura stays at home, where she paints, designs, learns the guitar and ponders career options, overseen by the couple’s English bulldog. Out of these seemingly inauspicious details Jarmusch weaves a tapestry of honest, hopeful small-town life that is rich in comic detail and real emotion.
“Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson rivals Toni Erdmann for the [Cannes] festival’s most audacious and pleasurable film. Both are comedies, but where [Maren] Ade’s film sprawls and succeeds via its script and larger-than-life performances, Jarmusch’s is pared down, like a great three-chord rock song that transcends through repetitions and minute variations… For Jarmusch… so much depends on the particular quality of the light that falls on the bed where Paterson wakes up every morning next to Laura… Each morning is the same and different. And rapturous.”—Amy Taubin, Film Comment