Jim Jarmusch sets his directorial brush on fire to paint a wonderfully slow burning portrait of intimate love between two distinctly different but impossibly intertwined human beings in his latest, Paterson.
Thematically not only focused on the challenges of romantic love but also probing the burden that an aspirational society can place upon its citizens and the responsibility that comes with trying to find one’s place in this ever-busy world
Feeling stuck in a small place whilst having bigger dreams is no better conveyed than in Adam Driver‘s character’s name being synonymous with the town that he inhabits. In fact, in case you miss that point, he drives a bus with it writ large on the front. He is simultaneously defined by his profession, his heritage and where he lives. They all somehow become the same thing, calling into question his identity and, more, what that is or could be. Are we defined by what we do or where we come from?
Paterson, himself, seemingly remains unsure but through his poetry he shows his creativity and yearning for something more than his small town life. He appears both deeply stationary and content whilst being sick of everything. The monotony of his daily life is punctuated only by the moments he grabs to write his poems and the interactions with his whimsical girlfriend, played with complexity and charm by Golshifteh Farahani, and her irritating dog, to which he returns home everyday. Even these moments seem confused in Paterson’s world.
We’re all so closely connected with the roles we fulfil, especially in the eyes of others – as evidenced by the question people invariably ask one another when they meet for the first time, ‘what do you do?’ – that being a bus driver becomes so entwined with the bus, and the purpose it satisfies for its passengers, that we barely see the driver as a person anymore, more just a continuation or extension of the bus itself. This affords Paterson an anonymity, allowing him to eavesdrop entirely unnoticed on his passengers, perhaps amusing, even inspiring, perhaps disgusting him, such is the intelligence behind Driver’s performance that a wry smile flickered almost imperceptibly across his large character-oozing face is ambiguous to the point of intrigue.
Subtle, elegant and verging on the mystical, Paterson delivers a wholly enjoyable movie experience within which Adam Driver‘s central performance is allowed to gently glow.