Adam Driver stars in Jim Jarmusch's Paterson as a New Jersey bus driver who secretly writes poetry about everyday life
Jim Jarmusch’s films have always been fascinated with outsiders. His characters are often loners (Only Lovers Left Alive), reprobates (Down by Law) or more often than not, misanthropes (Broken Flowers and Stranger than Paradise). Although they come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, they’re all united by their inability to integrate into modern society.
Jarmusch’s latest film is no different. Adam Driver stars as Paterson, an unassuming bus driver and aspiring poet, who rejects smartphones and laptops, choosing instead to write his ideas in a secret notepad. His life is one of routine: he wakes up at 6.30am, drives his routes, returns home to eat with his girlfriend, Laura (Farahani), before walking their English Bulldog, Marvin, to a local bar where he enjoys a solitary beer. Each day feels the same, but it’s not. Jarmusch is a master in the art of conversation and each journey offers Paterson the occasion to listen to the stories of his passengers and perceive the beauty that resides in the world. He then jots it all down in his notepad in an attempt to emulate the raw, observational poetry of his idol, William Carlos Williams.
Like a sonnet that grows more profound with each reading, the cyclical rhythms of Paterson take the monotony of working-class life and transpose it into art. This isn’t to say Jarmusch is blind to the harsh realities of life, and the film is peppered with subtle allusions to the outside world, be it the toy gun one character wields during a protracted break-up, or the framed photo of Paterson in full army regalia that suggests the film could be read as an allegory for PTSD. But this effortlessly cool film inhabits its own world, a wistful one in which language still has the power to cultivate art from the mundanity of everyday life.
Released by Soda Pictures