SFF 2016 Review: Paterson

Sydney Film Festival: Paterson

Paterson posterJim Jarmusch returns with a quiet and literally poetic portrait of a bus driver and his wife in New Jersey.

Like the gentle pacing of some of his previous films, there’s not a lot of drama to Jim Jarmusch’s PATERSON. The title refers to both Paterson (Adam Driver), a bus driver, and the town of Paterson, New Jersey where he lives. Between rides, he writes observational poetry about his life, mostly made up of overheard conversations and time spent with his loving and artistic wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), who is obsessed with all things black and white.

Similar to the work Jarmusch produced between Permanent Vacation and Night on Earth, there is an unhurried minimalism to PATERSON. The repetition throughout the film finds new perspectives on the mundane. The stories Paterson hears people telling on his bus are like the steady stream of characters that were encountered in Permanent Vacation, and they provide much of the wry humour in the film. The same is true of the bar that Paterson visits every night while walking the dog, with the characters inside providing the activity around the lead, rather than Paterson himself being a catalyst. The movie is structured on the repeated rhythm of poetry, represented in the on-screen text as Paterson works his way through writing his next poem about Ohio Blue Tip Matches, or his daily routine of going to and from work. Natural comedy comes from the interruptions to this routine, such as encounter with the typically loverlorn Everett (William Jackson Harper), when he pulls a gun on the woman he claims to adore in the bar. The single action reveals a small nugget of Paterson’s past, but that’s about as close to an active contribution that we get. PATERSON finds the poetry in the everyday, and it’s just a wonderful way to pass the time.

2016 | US | DIR: Jim Jarmusch | WRITERS: Jim Jarmusch | CAST: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani | DISTRIBUTOR: Madman Entertainment (AUS) | RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes | RATING:★★★★ (8/10)