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article imageReview: ‘Paterson’ is a subtle meditation on life’s brilliance Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 10, 2017 in Entertainment
Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Paterson’ is a restrained reflection on life via a poet who finds inspiration in even the most rigid routine.
It takes a special person to see beauty in everyday life. Everyone glimpses it here and there, and some even take a moment to admire the spontaneous splendour; but to be able to find it in everything and be inspired by it is the gift of an artist. This ability can serve as a relief to the mundanity of an ordinary existence since even the smallest thing can spark one’s imagination. Paterson follows such a man who writes poetry in his spare time.
From the outside, it couldn’t appear duller: Paterson (Adam Driver) lives in Paterson, NJ and drives the 23 Paterson bus five days a week. His name is just a coincidence, but the rest is a part of him. He wakes up every morning, kisses his wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), and begins his regular routine. Coming home often consists of some surprise care of his spouse, but he then walks the dog and goes to the same bar at the same time every night. His days are uneventful and when something out of the ordinary finally does occur, he appears completely unfazed. Yet in between all of this monotony, he keeps a secret notebook in which he composes poems that don’t rhyme and no one else ever sees or hears.
Paterson’s poetry is at the centre of the narrative. Driver reads the words at the pace it would take to write them as they simultaneously appear on the screen; jet black ink on plain paper is transferred to white script that overlays the picture. Creating them in his spare time, they are for him alone — though Laura insists he share them with the world, or at least her. Paterson admires the great poets, including local laureate William Carlos Williams, and reads their works often. He finds inspiration for his poems in almost anything, from a matchbox to a brief encounter to his love for his wife. If interrupted before the verses are complete, he effortlessly returns to it when another free moment presents itself. Yet he’s not entirely a casual composer; even though he seems able to write almost anywhere, he also keeps a small, book-lined office in his basement.
Driver portrays a man with an exceptionally even temper. However he clearly feels emotions deeply, even if he’s outwardly quiet and rarely expresses them through more than a smile. Paterson is surrounded by a cross-section of life, represented by the random conversations he overhears while driving the bus. Even stranger are his frequent, casual encounters with twins after his wife dreams they had a pair of their own. His relationships with people are simple, but genuine; he’s likable, but a little bit of a mystery to most. Farahani plays Paterson’s artistic stay-at-home wife whom he completely supports in all her endeavours, even when it seems most others would have requested she stop and focus on one thing. On the other hand, she’s actually quite good at whatever project she chooses to concentrate. And their adorable English bulldog undeniably contributes to the story via his own mischievous streak and expressions.
Writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s rumination of a man perfectly content, yet unconsciously demanding of an audience’s attention, gives Driver the opportunity to deliver an understated performance that is certainly the most acclaimed of his still young career.
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani and Nellie
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