Paterson (Adam Driver) is a New Jersey Transit bus driver in Paterson – they share the name. Paterson leads an orderly, routine life. Every day, he gets up early, kisses his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), makes coffee and eats a bowl of Cheerios before walking to the bus depot. As he drives his No. 23 route around the city, he observes his disparate passengers and listens to snippets of their conversation. He comes home at the same time for dinner each night, walks their cranky English bulldog Marvin, and enjoys a beer at a corner bar. But his passion is writing poetry in a small notebook. Read on…
Paterson indulgently supports Laura’s whimsical black-and-white circular painting, black-and-white clothes, black-and-white cupcake-baking and country-singer ambitions; in turn, she encourages his gift for poetry. They love each other dearly.
Deadpan Adam Driver (“Silence”) embodies this quiet, observant man who derives creative inspiration from an Ohio Blue Tip matchbox, while the quirky exuberance of Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani is seemingly boundless.
There is very little plot, as such, and the contemplative poems were written for the film by Oklahoma-born Ron Padgett, whose work is obviously influenced by Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara and the “New York School.”
Admittedly, independent writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s leisurely, low-budget films (“The Limits of Control,” “Only Lovers Left Alive”) are an acquired taste, one that I’ve yet to attain, although I do admire his cinematic eye.
Working with Frederick Elmes, he captures an idealized beauty in the mundane scenes of a dilapidated city that was once an industrial center.
Aside from the scenic Great Falls of the Passaic, Paterson is perhaps best known as the birthplace of comedian Lou Costello and the subject of an epic modernist poem by William Carlos Williams, a physician who lived in nearby Rutherford.
Williams viewed poetry as “equipment for living, a necessary guide amid the bewilderments of life.” Obviously, Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson agrees.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Paterson” is a subtly stoic 6, a melancholy meditation.