Film Review: Paterson


In association with Glasgow Film Theatre

In Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, a mysterious man explains to Adam Driver’s character (and subsequently the audience) that sometimes a blank page offers the most opportunity. This ultimately serves as the message of the film – that even the most mundane can offer meaning to those who are observant enough.

Paterson (Adam Driver) is a bus driver from Paterson, New Jersey. The film chronicles a regular week of Paterson’s life. He gets up, goes to work, drives his bus, comes home Living to his delightfully cheery wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) and takes the dog for a walk to the bar where he has one beer. But in his spare time Paterson is an aspiring poet. Laura insists that he publishes his material, but he seems hesitant despite his mind is able to interpret almost anything into poetry, as shown through visual text.

Not only does the film boast technical prowess but it’s one that will leave audiences processing it long after the credits have finished rolling. By all outward appearances this is an uneventful film but that’s the genius behind it. It shows audiences how even the conventional can double as something inspiring and it takes a life as seemingly simple as Paterson’s to showcase this.

Gorgeous and deliberately repetitive uses of editing and cinematography and Jarmusch’s script are what highlight the main themes of the film. Laura tells Paterson about a dream in which they had children – twins – and then he starts to see twins everywhere, signifying the importance of life’s dualities, between the ordinary and the extraordinary. This is seen through many concepts such as love, notably Paterson’s unbending love for his wife, told through his poetry. Even the fact that the main character shares his name with his home city is no coincidence. Urban life comes off as routine to us but to Paterson this city, which was also home to his favourite poets, is where imagination sets the pace and the simple can become provocative to those who look closer.

Rich in atmosphere, delicately crafted and featuring a career best performance from Adam Driver, Paterson is a thought provoking film that shows us the beauty in the mundane. All we need are the eyes to observe and the demeanour to appreciate it.

[Calum Cooper]

The film will be running at Glasgow Film Theatre from the 25th of November until the 8th of December. Tickets are available here.

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