To state that the films of director Jim Jarmusch are slow going will probably be old news by now, at least to those familiar with the lauded filmmaker’s works. His films aren’t about plot. As such, the classic screenplay structure that’s been taught by film professors for eons is thrown out the window in the Jarmusch universe. His films are best described as being akin to watching life unfold as it would in real time, with a hidden camera capturing it for the viewer to behold.
The characters in Jarmusch’s latest film, Paterson, will fit nicely into the director/writer’s overall body of work when film scholars examine it in future years. They just go about the business of going through the motions of life, day to day, with little to no hope of growing or changing as human beings. If there is any change in the lives of the character you can’t help but feel it will be incremental, if at all. Yes, Paterson is that kind of film so those expecting some narrative filled with sweeping melodrama to carry them away should be forewarned that this is not that kind of film.
Starring: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Helen-Jean Arthur Paterson Official Trailer 1 (2016) – Adam Driver Movie Set in the present in Paterson, New Jersey, this is a tale about a bus driver and poet.
The main character in Paterson would be the aptly named Paterson as personified in the film by Adam Driver. Paterson is best described as a bus driver with the soul of a poet who also happens to live with his girlfriend in (surprise !) the city of Paterson, New Jersey. He’s not just a figurative poet either. No, he’s the real deal, carrying a notebook with him at all times so as not to lose the poetic thoughts that swirl around in his head at any random moment. His girlfriend, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), who spends her days in artistic pursuits as well, encourages him to publish his work. Paterson, however, seems either too uninterested or lacking in energy to do anything of the sort and so on and on it goes.
The film’s basic structure is Paterson gets out of bed, writes down some poetry, drives a bus all day, takes the dog for a walk, grabs a beer at the local pub and then retires for the evening. This routine is then repeated for nearly two hours of screen time with no dramatic crises of any sort to enliven the proceedings. Needless to say, this isn’t the kind of material that lends itself well to most movies.
Admittedly, Paterson is obviously made with heart and contains some good performances but it’s too dramatically inert for my tastes. Those more forgiving may warm up it rhythms. It all depends on how important an actual story might be when investing two hours of one’s time in a film. That will definitely be the deciding factor.
Photo: Driver & Farahani in Paterson
At press time, this movie is playing in several theaters in Charlotte
Questions or comments? Write Adam at [email protected].