The ordinary is extraordinary in Jim Jarmusch’s charming film, Paterson, about the poets of the world who see beauty and meaning in every detail of their surroundings, even the most mundane.
Paterson (Adam Driver) from Paterson New Jersey is a poet and bus driver who lives with his unceasingly cheerful wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) and their opinionated bulldog Marvin. Always buoyant, his wife persistently urges him to try to publish his writing, while he seems reluctant, settled in his simple but happy existence, eternally lost in imaginative reverie. A creative, spontaneous person, Laura dreams of country singer stardom while her successful cupcake baking hobby shows great potential.
Ever observing small elements of life around him, Paterson composes words in his head, superimposed on the screen. The theme of missed opportunities is presented again and again in the snippets of conversations he overhears on his bus. Laura proposes the notion of having children, twins; he then sees twins everywhere, signifying no doubt life’s dualities, a struggle between everyday mundane responsibility and the sublime. The dualism of the protagonist’s name and his town suggests an anchor in the ordinary, and yet Paterson is the home base of famous bards William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg. The character meets poets everywhere in this locale – from a talented rapper in a laundromat, to a pensive little girl and a wise Japanese businessman. The idea is that if one looks closely at the ordinary and stereotypical, they will discover intricate, infinite individuality – poesy.
Love, a classic inspiration for poetry, is a recurring motif, as in Paterson’s adoration of his wife, expressed with subtle beauty in his poems. An opposing duality: at the local bar, a love-obsessed, rejected ex-boyfriend (William Jackson Harper) brandishes a gun, heroically intercepted by Paterson. That it is in fact a toy gun symbolically exhibits a human tendency to perpetuate living in dress rehearsal, forever in potential mode, avoiding risk. Yet the dualism idea suggests that simplicity can also be as meaningful as living in the fast lane, and on a creative level more so.
With beautifully crafted cinematography, close-ups are used to express mood, the significance of moments and grains of truth in details. Overhead shots of Paterson and Laura sleeping, repeated in daily sequence, convey an atmosphere of transcendence in domesticity. About appreciating life, the superbly written, directed and acted Paterson is an original, a thought-provoking gem.
Paterson is released nationwide on 25th November 2016.
Watch the trailer for Paterson here: