| A quiet observation of the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.
This is definitely one of the most calming films of the year. Not just from the lack of any real conflict, nor just from Driver’s near-constant calm aloofness, but also from the recurring motifs and the elegant simplicity of the formalism. A good example of the latter is how efficiently we are told a whole bunch of small details about Paterson in the opening scene by a few quick cuts around the bedroom. Though my favorite aspect by far is all the uses of superposition; usually of flowing water, the wristwatch showing a looping, sped up passage of time and the various images of Paterson’s everyday life.
A close second, and somewhat related, is the way the poems are overlayed and read in the voice-over. There’s just something about the care with which this is constructed that really seems to lay bare the core of Paterson’s being and his way of seeing the world and the people around him. Then there are the small, weird details like all the twins, who make appearances every so often to remind us; there is always someone out there like us that matches our hearts, and we are never really alone. It adds a touch of otherwordlyness to the otherwise calm mundanity of the everyday small town life we’re shown. There’s even a ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ reunion at one point, which was so cool since its one of my favourite films of Wes Anderson.
Jarmusch is all about details and how little things make bigger things meaningful – both in life and on screen. Channeling the story of a bus driver who spends his days mesmerizing over the simplicities in the world around him, taking these brief thoughts and putting them into poems, Jarmusch shows what he does best by creating a persona that’s almost completely like him: a man who takes the most mundane aspects of the world and makes them into art. The brilliance really only lies in this simple aspect for the film to succeed. It doesn’t have anything in it that elevates it above it’s naturalism, it’s realism except for a small hint here and there. The way Jarmusch and cinematographer Frederick Elmes are able to photograph Paterson, NJ feels dreamy yet grounded in reality.
“I go through trillion of molecules that move aside to make way for me, while on both sides trillions more stay where they are.”
The titular poet looks and philosophizes about the most mundane stuff he sees on his days working, drinking and taking his dog out, he searches for the special things that exist within these daily observations. Sometimes he sees this in the smallest things, like a box of matches or the tick of his watch and at other times it is the more “extravagant” things that suddenly pop up as they do in everyones life: chess games played by one man, a girlfriend who paints everything black and white, which is also a beautiful symbolization of this melancholic worldview of Paterson (and Jarmusch) as they often channel both the black and the white, the extremes of life in both the small and the grand, combining them into a satisfying whole that perfectly embraces this simple look at the gorgeous purity of life.
One of the terrific scenes near the end involves a spontaneous interaction between Paterson and a Japanese town visitor (Masatoshi Nagase) and serves as a reminder that we should accept who we are, no matter the challenges or lack of glory. This is truly director Jarmusch’s ode to the artist/poet in each of us and in ordinary life.
Paterson is delightfully layered with surprising wisdom, complexity, diversity and humor at every turn. Articles and images on a tavern wall take us to other dimensions in time in an instant. The minor flaw I have with the movie is its bland soundtrack, which could have been experimented more. The on-screen chemistry between actors Adam Driver (Paterson) and Golshifteh Farahani (Laura) is critical to the film, and they are more than up to the task. They are outstanding, alluring and entirely convincing. The compassion and charm of this film is unforgettable. It reminds us that love and splendor spring from the unlikeliest of places. It’s a crime that this movie isn’t nominated for any Oscar, although I do understand it’s not a movie for everyone.
‘Paterson’ gets a 8.6/10.
Shot on 35's Rating Sheet: 9.5 – 10.0: Excellent! 8.5 – 9.5: Fantastic, but with minor flaws 7.5 – 8.5: Great, but with issues 6.5 – 7.5: Okay, but with major issues 5.5 – 6.5: Had potential, but falls flat hard. 4.5 – 5.5: Disaster!
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