Paterson (Adam Driver) - DVD Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
IN AN age when modern cinema seems more interested in seeing how big things can get, it’s something of a charming experience to find a film prepared to dwell on the more simple things in life.
Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson is an amiable crowd-pleaser that exists to celebrate the everyday. And while it may well test the patience of those counting down to the next big explosion or grand gesture, it’s a disarming experience for those willing to try something different.
The story basically follows a man called Paterson, played by the increasingly versatile Adam Driver, who works in Paterson, New Jersey, as a bus driver. Although he has formerly served in the military (as evidenced by a photo on one of his shelves), he is a quiet, mild-mannered man with a deep-rooted passion for poetry.
He is also very happily married to Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), who stays at home actively pursuing her ambitions, no matter how fleeting. One day, she may be intent on becoming a successful baker; the next, she’s begging to buy a guitar to fulfil a desire to become a country and Western singer.
The love-struck couple also share a dog, whom Paterson walks every night en route to his favourite bar, where he always stops for just the one pint and a chat with the similarly traditionalist bar owner Doc (Barry Shabaka Henley).
It’s an existence governed by routine for Paterson – but it’s one he enjoys, even if Laura keeps encouraging him to have a go at publishing his poems.
And so viewers are invited to follow Paterson over the course of a week. Admittedly, not much happens. There is the odd flashpoint… whether involving young former lovers Marie (Chasten Harmon) and Everett (William Jackson Harper), or a broken down bus. And there’s a minor loss, which carries an unexpected poignancy.
But the film remains a low-key affair, fuelled by a terrific central performance from Driver and some eye-catching support from the likes of Farahani and Henley. It’s a measure of the quality of Jarmusch’s script, however, that the characters absorb and resonate. Time spent in their company doesn’t feel like time in any way wasted.
When fellow bus driver Donny (Rizwan Manji) declines to offer his latest update on why his life is so miserable, for example, you kind of wish he had. While you really want to find out how Doc fared in his fabled chess tournament.
But then part of the appeal of Paterson is the way it stays with you. The characters it depicts could well be people we all know, or have experienced. Laura, for instance, could represent the dreamer in all of us, while Paterson is the quiet everyman going about his day-to-day content with his lot in life (possibly more so, having experienced life at the sharp end of the military). It’s a nice juxtaposition in a film that resolutely clings to hope, no matter what life throws at his characters.
With Paterson, Jarmusch has expertly created his best film since Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. It’s a quietly inspiring experience.
Running time: 112mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: March 27, 2017