By Bob Bloom
“Paterson” is a quiet and gentle story about creativity, observation and love.
It is a movie that somehow has slipped under the radar, which is a shame, because it features an outstanding performance by Adam Driver in the title role.
Driver plays Paterson, a bus driver in the city of Paterson, N.J. He is a quiet, thoughtful man who, on the side, writes poetry about little things that inspire him, such as a box of Ohio Blue matches.
As written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, “Paterson” is a tender, slice-of-life feature that should be savored rather than simply watched.
Jarmusch, through Driver’s Paterson, celebrates the routine and minutiae of life. Paterson’s daily schedule is a model of consistency.
He awakens about the same time, walks to work, drives his bus — observing the city and overhearing snippets of conversations between riders — walks home, has dinner with his wife, then walks the dog to the neighborhood bar where he stops in for one beer.
He returns home, goes to bed, then wakes up and starts again.
While Paterson’s life is orderly, that of his wife, Laura, is constantly changing. Every day she embarks on a new project, mostly repainting curtains and other decor around the house in different designs of black and white.
Daily, Laura dreams of new ideas, including learning the guitar and becoming a country-western singer. Paterson simply smiles and offers her his support.
Driver brings a dreamy, introspectiveness to Paterson. His character seems to observe the world, more than live in it. At times, he seems to be in a world of his own, yet he always is alert, seeking inspiration for his poetry — no matter the source.
“Paterson” is a leisurely stroll through the lives of two creative individuals who support and love each other, and understand and embrace the other’s foibles.
Not much happens in “Paterson,” and maybe that is Jarmusch’s point. Most people live their lives day-to-day, going through the same actions, with only minor variations along the way.
Basically, Jarmusch is saying, the banality of life has its own beauty, with small moments of love, commitment and creativity hovering over people like white, fluffy clouds.
One of the film’s joys is the performance of Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani as Laura. While Driver’s Paterson seems to have little to say, Laura is bursting with ideas and dreams that flow from her like a newly erupted volcano.
The couple is the embodiment of the cliché that opposites attract. Despite their differing temperaments, a true bond and love exist between them.
“Paterson” is the kind of feature that, because it is so low-key, it easily can slip through the cinematic cracks.
Before that happens, I urge you to visit “Paterson.” It is a trip you will be glad you undertook.
Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.
4 stars out of 4