By Valerie Complex
I hate riding the bus, especially the MTA in New York City. It’s slow, rarely on time, and boring. Ten years ago you could always look forward to some action on the bus, but now people are so engrossed with their cell phones, that excitement and interaction are gone. However, in Paterson, NJ human interaction is still a thriving part of a New Jersey transit bus ride. At least director Jim Jarmusch likes to think so.
With his new film, Paterson, we find the character of the same name (played by Adam Driver), waking up at 6 am to get his day started, and it’s pretty monotonous. He wakes up, eats a bowl of Cheerios, goes to work, drives the bus, finishes his shift, goes home, walks the dog, grabs a beer at the bar, and back home. Then wakes up the next day to do it all again. We watch him throughout a full seven days as he slowly breaks up the monotony by writing poetry in his notebook before work, on his lunch break, and after work.
Paterson is a married man and is madly in love with his wife Laura ( Golshifteh Farahani). Although Laura has a bit more energy than Paterson can keep up with. Truth be told, Laura is a bit flighty. She aspires to become everything to include a famous baker, a country singer, a painter, or whatever else she thinks of that day. You would believe that this would stretch the limits of Paterson’s patience, but it’s quite the opposite. He is such a thoughtful and husband and supports his her decisions while she encourages him to share his poetry. He reluctantly agrees.
On his daily bus rides, Paterson meets a child poet, an aspiring rapper, a Japanese tourist, and various other personalities. Unlike most people who are selfish and self-absorbed, Paterson is genuinely interested in the stories of others and what makes them tick. This is what provides the inspiration for his poetry. As an artist and as a dreamer, life is never dull. No matter what age, race, or gender–the art of writing by hand is a skill that still connects all people. Through Paterson’s eyes, the audience will see he has an appreciation for life, for the environment, and love for the city of Paterson, NJ which has too long been forgotten.
A running theme Jarmusch injects into the atmosphere is the siting of twins. Paterson just keeps running into pairs of twins. The twin theme isn’t explained by the film, as Jarmusch has never been one to give the audience too much. The duality of it all shows there are two sides–Paterson the blue collar worker, and Paterson the poet are one in the same. The slow and unyielding tone of his films is a long time stylistic choice audiences have come to expect, but his movies are always a get away from the restlessness of fast-paced, action gorging cinema.
Jarmusch has a good idea for talent as Adam Driver is comfortable and natural in front of the camera. He may not have that classic Hollywood look, but he is self-assured in his skills and abilities, and a joy to watch on screen. He has the nice guy image mastered as Paterson is probably the closest to Driver’s real personality–bubbly and inviting. He has been in television and film and through his work has shown that he has the range to sustain longevity in Hollywood.
The question I kept asking myself is what type of audience is Jarmusch looking to attract with Paterson? Then I remembered that everyone has dreams. He wants the audience to know that the world is poetry in motion, and we should save this dying art from extinction. That it’s ok to stop and take a moment to acknowledge the space, you’re in and filter it through your personal lens. Don’t be afraid to tap into your talents and pursue your dreams. Poetry will always be alive and well if you take a moment to stop and live in the present.
I still hate riding the bus, though.
Valerie Complex is a freelance writer, and professional nerd. As a lover of Japanese animation, and all things film, she is passionate about diversity across all entertainment mediums.