Rated R
118 Minutes
Released December 28

 

It would be wise to clear all the extraneous thoughts streaming through your mind before seeing Paterson. This movie is a detailed window into the life of a bus driver and the people around him, in Paterson NJ. Our hero, played with great sensitivity and calmness by Adam Driver, is not your typical bus driver. The driver happens to be named “Paterson”. The irony is not lost on us that Adam Driver plays a “driver” named “Paterson” who lives in Paterson, an ex-Marine who happens to love writing poetry and keeps a notebook with him at all times. He doesn’t think his poetry is anything exceptional. He is inspired to write by the beauty he sees in the smallest details around him.

Each character in this movie, no matter how short their screen time, is fascinating. Especially noteworthy is Golshifteh Rarahani, who skillfully portrays Paterson’s wife “Laura.” Laura is a very unusual working class wife. She’s Persian American. Of great significance in this film is the fact that her ethnicity has no weight on the development of her character in this story nor is it ever remarked upon. Her ethnicity is just taken for granted and is part of her presence. She is a housewife whose fertile imagination never tires of finding creative outlets of enrichment. The couple has no children. “Marvin,” their dog, is the cornerstone of their existence.

This is not an adventure, a mystery or a lesson piece. Director Jim Jarmusch, a musician, has created a musical poem in this film. In fact, every poem that is recited is backed by music that enhances the words and thoughts. Portals open that in other types of stories would portend danger, evil or tragedy – and then they close, with nothing lost. This is a picture of people and the beauty of the ordinariness of their everyday routines, showing us that the mundane can be exquisite if you look at it with fresh eyes. Various coincidences occur, seem remarkable and then merge into the landscape of observations. This is also a love story about the town of Paterson – or any town – and the people who live there now and have lived there before, whether famous or unknown. The music by Jarmusch, Carter Logan and their band Squrl is exceptional. The cinematography by Frederick Elmes is languid and rich, so important to the style of the movie.

The key to this film is that it flows like life through touching scenes that give us a glimpse into the experiences of the characters. It does not play like a contrived narrative and it does not make judgments. Things happen and they have impact on the people we are watching, and then we move on. The players glide through the city of Paterson and its environs and savor the beauty that they are able to find in their surroundings. The movie is a poem in itself, one without beginning and end, like the river that flows through the town.

 

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com