Paterson is another of writer-director Jim Jarmusch’s quiet character tone poems: measured in pacing, deliberate in thought and the kind of movie that draws you in before you realize it’s working its spell on you.
The Production: 3.5/5
Paterson is another of writer-director Jim Jarmusch’s quiet character tone poems: measured in pacing, deliberate in thought, and the kind of movie that draws you in before you realize it’s working its spell on you. Premiered at Cannes to a tremendous reception, Paterson offers ordinary slices of life which become more filling the more you continue to consume them.
Paterson (Adam Driver) is a city bus driver, driving a familiar route five days a week along the city streets of Paterson, New Jersey. He does his job professionally and then goes home each night to his loving Iranian-American wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) and their English bulldog Marvin (Nellie). Laura, who has a fetish for black and white, has lots of big ideas she wants to explore including starting a cupcake business and becoming a country-western singer. Paterson gently indulges her dreams while forging out his own thoughts and feelings into a secret book of inner murmurings he jots down as poems about everything from blue-tipped matches to skies and songs. His own inner circle of friends includes his supervisor at work Donny (Rizwan Manji) whose life seems to go from bad to worse, local bartender Doc (Barry Shabaka Henley) who’s having trouble making ends meet, and on again/off again couple Marie (Chasten Harmon) and Everett (William Jackson Harper).
Jim Jarmusch’s script makes the ordinary into something to anticipate and inevitably become anxious about. We spend a week in the life of Paterson, and after the first two days we see the patterns appearing in his low-key, highly regimented existence, so then as the week wears on and small things begin to disrupt the routine of this quiet, friendly, and thoughtful man, we begin to become alarmed that the peacefulness and angst-free existence he’s carved out for himself might somehow become derailed. Things do, in fact, happen to disrupt and disquiet Paterson and his world of simple pleasures (no spoilers but they range from frightening to momentarily annoying to devastating), and the viewer knows whether the film is working if he gauges his own reactions to Paterson’s trials and tribulations as they occur. There are certainly small moments to treasure here: Paterson’s poems being scribbled in a book are also scribbled on the screen (they are actually poems written by poet Ron Padgett according to the end credits), the solution to the mystery of Paterson’s always tipped-over mailbox, some lovely views of Paterson waterfalls from a centrally located park, Marvin’s behavior claiming his throne in the home and knowing his nightly routine as Paterson walks to the local bar each night for one beer. Jarmusch fashions some nice montage visual work as we see images cascade over themselves as Paterson goes about his daily scheduled bus route, and he’s also working in a twins motif throughout the movie (that meaning is lost on this reviewer unless the writer-director is linking Paterson to poets like William Carlos Williams who held other careers while also writing on the side) and allows us to catch bits and pieces of different conversations as the world comes in and out of his bus daily. The climactic encounter with a Japanese businessman offers a lovely coda to the picture as Paterson heads into another week of his life with hopes restored.
Adam Driver won the Los Angeles Film Critics Best Actor award for his performance in this movie, and his low-key work is quite admirable containing his emotions so tightly inside himself but without showing any strain in dealing with his character’s pleasures and disappointments. Golshifteh Farahani is a sweet and loving and supportive life partner for Paterson, kooky in her obsession with black and white but not without esthetic appeal, it must be admitted. Barry Shabaka Henley also gets a nice role as bartender Doc who, like Paterson, sees the world come through his place, often observing the problems of others but, unlike Paterson, occasionally joining into them as a peacemaker or settler of arguments. Chasten Harmon and William Jackson Harper as the bickering sweethearts (well, at least from his point of view) add some variety to the human palette of the film. Rizwan Manji has some short but funny descriptions of his various ailments and annoyances. Marvin (played by Nellie) is another of cinema’s memorably adorable pooches.
3D Rating: NA
The film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully produced in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is outstanding throughout, and detail in close-ups allows us to see quite a few facial features with startling clarity. Color is wonderfully managed and presents realistic and appealing skin tones. Contrast has been superbly applied for a first rate picture, and black levels are quite fine. The movie has been divided into 20 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix places the dialogue into the center channel and uses the surrounds mostly for song stylings and music by Squrl. Atmospheric effects seem more directed to the front soundstage, particularly the center channel, without getting a more expansive spread through the fronts and rears.
Special Features: 0.5/5
Promo Trailers (HD): A Monster Calls, The Bye Bye Man, Mind Gamers, Sleepless.
Digital Copy: code sheet enclosed in the case.
Paterson is another Jim Jarmusch character gem with a slowly engrossing narrative that pulls you in and works its spell on you almost without your noticing it. The video quality for the Blu-ray release is exquisite though apart from promo trailers and a digital copy, there are no bonuses to further extend the film’s unique appeal.