Paterson is quite simply a film about the day-to-day life of a working man, and the normal everyday trials – from walking the dog to mild disagreements with the wife – that the average working class man goes through. No more, no less.
Adam Driver plays the title character, who drives a blue bus around the small American town of Paterson. In his spare time he likes writing poetry; not particularly good poetry, but one can admire the quiet passion he pours into it. His wife is also an artistic type with dreams of being a fashion designer; again, she has little talent, yet unlike her husband, who keeps his feet firmly on the ground, her head often appears to be in the clouds. You can tell he loves her, though. Most evenings he enjoys walking his dog down the road towards the local pub, where he ties her up outside, while he goes in for a beer.
This is Paterson, the latest directorial effort from Jim Jarmusch following Only Lovers Left Alive (2013). And while all that may sound rather dull and monotonous to some, it turned out to be one of my favourite films of the year.
There’s something undeniably comforting about watching this movie from the comfort of a cinema seat. Whether it’ll retain that same sense of easy comfort from a seat in one’s front room while watching on a smaller screen remains to be seen – but I’d wager the experience won’t be too different. Driver inhabits the role of Paterson (who, yes, shares his name with the small town in which he lives and works) with such ease, instantly bringing the audience alongside him to share in his humble life experiences. I dare you not to like him, and grow to enjoy spending time with this character as if he were a close friend.
Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani plays his wife Laura, who brings a similarly likable if somewhat quirky quality to the film. Of course, one can’t talk about Paterson’s cast without also mentioning arguably its star player, Nellie, who plays the couple’s dog and won the Palm Dog Award for best canine performance at Cannes earlier this year.
My favourite scene involves a conversation Paterson has with an unnamed Asian man (played by Masatoshi Nagase) on a park bench towards the film’s conclusion; this serves as the closest thing this movie has to a payoff, following the closest thing it has to a crisis point in the story. Needless to say, neither are pulse-inducing by modern cinematic standards. But, particularly in this day and age, Paterson feels like that rare breed of film everyone could do with seeing a little more of.
9 / 10