Paterson is written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and stars Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley, Chasten Harmon, William Jackson Harper and Rizwan Manji. It follows a bus driver named Paterson who lives in the city of Paterson, writing poetry and timidly observing life as it goes by. Let me start by saying I am a big fan of the work of Jim Jarmusch, with Stranger Than Paradise and Down By Law being two of my all time favourites, so naturally, I was anticipating this. From the trailers it looked cinematically different but still like Jarmusch at his best, so I was really quite intrigued going in. I don't know if I expected a masterpiece, but I surely did hope I would get something truly engaging and insightful. But what did I think of the film? Here's my take on Paterson.
I suppose I should have expected more really as I was absolutely blown away by this film. Jarmusch orchestrates something so mundane and inconsequential, yet deeply meaningful and poetic (not least because it's protagonist is so passionate about the medium of poetry). I didn't expect a masterpiece, but dare I say I got one? Perhaps, but perhaps I shouldn't throw the word masterpiece around like that. That being said, this could be the closest to a masterpiece that I have seen this year. And I will say that it's certainly a Jim Jarmusch picture. There is something about his ability to create honest naturalism that is so gripping, and this is especially clear in Paterson. With the writing and direction being so realistic and truthful, the film feels like not just a film, but an observation of real human life, and that can be completely credited to Jarmusch himself. He weaves his way through the life of this undoubtedly ordinary yet somehow extremely unique character, played remarkably by Adam Driver. Much of the emotion of this character needs to be conveyed directly through facial expression and physical language, and Driver does this perfectly with complete embodiment and believability. You feel this characters awkwardness yet kind consideration from the opening scene, which is a testament to both Jarmusch's direction and Driver's performance.
But this is also one of the most profoundly interesting characters of the year for me. Paterson's relatability, matched with his fantastical personality never fails to be engaging and somewhat touching, with every shot telling us something about him, until the point of a warm feeling of understanding by the end of the film. The magic of Paterson lies in the idea that we feel like we actually know it's main character, and that's just a fantastic execution of character building. Back to performances now though, and I must say that Driver's performance isn't the only brilliant one in the film. In fact, every actor seems to bring something personal and staggeringly human to their role, with each performance being just as convincing as the last, and every character seeming to act as a piece to the puzzle of the film. What's stunning is that we see how each character influences Driver's Paterson and how he influences them. Even the smallest of roles, such as Method Man's cameo, feels so crucial and important in the structure of the film as it is so packed with depth and purpose. The most important supporting character though would be that of Paterson's partner Laura, a character that always pops with vibrance when on screen, played in a joyously genuine and alive fashion by actress Golshifteh Farahani. Part of the reason the film works so well is because we are able to believe in their relationship, and it was that which brought me pure electricity and happiness throughout the course of my viewing.
This is maybe the closest to a perfect movie I've seen all year. My problem is that I can't seem to highlight it's flaws. Normally I'll come out of the cinema thinking 'yeah that was fantastic but these are the problems I have with it', then I'll list what issues come to mind, but with this I came out ready to list my flaws and just couldn't think of any, and somehow it's managing to get even more flawless the more I think about it. It's not thrilling or tense or exciting, but rather mundane and quiet and slow, but in it that simplicity it finds so much beauty and meaning, making it wholly engaging. My personal favourite film of 2016 so far is (or possibly was) Arrival, and I didn't actually think it would get better than that, but this, for me, might just beat it. And that's because somehow this melancholy, inconsequential film, stooped in mundanity, is the most moving, relatable, original, fresh and outstanding piece of work 2016 has to offer. It's not for everyone, but I absolutely adore it, and I suggest that you go out to a cinema and give it a watch, because maybe you will too.
So what did you think of Paterson? Have you seen it? Did you enjoy it? Make sure to let me know down in the comments and if you liked this review and want to see more like it go to creators.co/@garwoodreviews for more.