A week in the life of a young bus driver-poet named Paterson, who lives in Paterson, New Jersey (director Jim Jarmusch must enjoy this conceit), is the focus of this gentle drama. While it begins slowly, things do happen, and, ultimately, it all pays off. Everything about the movie is gentle, from the humor to the little bit of violence. (I know that might seem unlikely.)
Jarmusch telegraphs a lot of the plot points, but at least there is a plot to anticipate. For examples, I knew that Everett was going to do something crazy before he did it. (Hasn't Paterson just asked Marie whether or not Everett might do something crazy?) And I knew that Marvin was going to do something crazy, too, before he did it. (Hasn't the camera shown the glint in Marvin's eye before Paterson and his lovely wife, Laura, go out to dinner and a movie? And hasn't Laura spent much of the movie warning Paterson to take precautions?)
Paterson, played by Adam Driver, is a mild-mannered guy. His routine could be described as dull. It is almost the same every weekday, but the nature of life is that at least one interesting occurrence is bound to break up the daily routine, and that happens here. A nice touch is the series of overheard conversations among bus patrons. A brief conversation can tell a lot about people. And a recurring gag is that after Laura tells Paterson that she dreamed about having twins (the young couple is childless), Paterson keeps seeing twins of various ages throughout the rest of the movie.
Paterson wakes up every day, kisses Laura, eats breakfast, walks to work, drives his route, writes poems in his notebook, then goes home. Every evening, he finds his mailbox post leaning, and he straightens it up. The next evening he repeats this ritual. (Finally, we find out what has been making the box lean over.)
After dinner, Paterson always takes his dog for a walk, but this is really an excuse to go to the local watering hole where he knows Doc, the bartender. Doc has a wall dedicated to famous people from Paterson, including the twentieth century comedian Lou Costello, whom Doc and Paterson agree is probably the most famous of the many famous Patersonians.
"I wonder where his partner, Bud Abbott, was from?" muses Paterson.
"He was from New Jersey, too," replies Doc. "Ashbury Park. Born 1895."
Doc seems to know everything. He is also looking forward to a chess tournament over the weekend.
"I'm getting my ass kicked," Doc says as he moves a chess piece on a board sitting on the bar.
"Who are you playing?" asks Paterson after a look around.
"Myself," says Doc.
Few movies are made about poets, especially not about the undiscovered ones. Paterson narrates little poems on his way to work, and he writes them in his notebook, before he starts his bus and on his lunch break. (Jarmush got real-life poet Ron Padgett to provide all but one of the poems used in the movie; Jarmusch himself wrote the poem, "Water Falls".) Paterson also writes at a bench in his basement. His books, lined up on the bench, show his taste in poetry. Wallace Stevens and, of course, William Carlos Williams, a Paterson resident. These poets have something in common with Paterson in that they, too, had day jobs. Stevens was an insurance executive, and Williams was a medical doctor. Paterson also has a slim volume by Ron Padgett.
Paterson adores Laura and supports her, even though he may not fully understand all of her eccentric ideas. She is always painting things black and white, including walls, curtains and clothing. (Paterson checks to make sure the paint is dry.) She wants to buy an expensive guitar (a black and white Harlequin, natch) and dreams of becoming a Nashville star. She also thinks she could parlay her baking skills into a cupcake business. She creates a brussel sprout and cheddar cheese pie for dinner. Paterson may have his doubts about some of these things (I think he is less than thrilled about the expensive guitar), but he is supportive in all cases, just as Laura supports his poetry. He also always asks workmates and strangers how they are and seems to be genuinely interested. He looks out for a ten-year- old who has been left alone, and he seems unafraid when a gang- banger questions him on the street. A photo in his home appears to be of him in a U.S. Marine uniform, but nothing is ever said about this. One suspects that that might represent the only time he ever left Paterson.
Although it seems as if nothing is happening at first, things do, and, if you give this movie a chance, you might be rewarded.
3 out of 3 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.