Jim Jarmusch’s latest film, Paterson, is a stripped back, contemplative piece that tries to find poetry and beauty in the mundane and repetitive. Adam Driver, giving a wonderfully personable performance, plays Paterson, a bus driver who lives and works in Paterson, New Jersey. The structure of the film is simply following Paterson through a week in his life: he gets up, he goes to work, he comes home to his partner Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) and her adorably jealous pup, Marvin. In terms of big explosive reveals or people getting into sticky situations over a McGuffin, Paterson takes the path easily travelled; one almost free of consequence. Much like Paterson himself, who spends his downtime writing poems intent for his eyes only.
Whilst Laura embraces her artistic side with an announcement of a daily dream she wishes to realise, Paterson chooses to keep his talent to himself. Does he doubt his own words, or is he so shy that to share one line with anyone but Laura would let others know too much? Jamusch never really lets us under the skin of his titular character, instead leaving a few crumbs for us to follow. A photo on his bedside table exposes Paterson to be a military man, whilst his stubborn refusal to have a mobile phone speaks volumes about a man who wants his privacy.
More meditative than plot-driven, things just happen to Paterson as he drifts through his days never outwardly showing his discontent with his lot in life. This shuffling along does, unfortunately, mean that Jarmusch’s tale can drag on in the same way our own working week does. However, it’s Driver’s performance that carries us along in the same way Paterson ferries his passengers to their final stop. As such, Paterson is a warm-hearted affair that really champions the everyday person who dares to dream small.