Paterson full movie review - 7 days in the life of Paterson
"Paterson" is a new American movie from this year (2016). It runs for almost two hours and was written and directed by multiple Cannes Film Festival winner Jim Jarmusch.
This connection or also Jarmusch's older film should give you a pretty good imagination what to expect with this movie. The lead actor is Adam Driver and his co-lead is Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani and these two names (maybe even only the former) are probably the only actors you have heard before watching this one. Driver is of course known for Star Wars, but his early fame came from the television series "Girls", for which he scored several Emmy nominations. In this movie we have here, he plays a bus driver. We follow him for a week, day by day, and see what his relatively ordinary life is like. We find out about his poetry, about how he loves to spend his evenings at a local pub and about his job as well. But sometimes he did not even feel as the exact essence of the film. It is definitely also a lot about the smaller characters here, such as the barkeeper, or the other bar guests or Paterson's girlfriend. We find out a bit about all of these and I thought this is one of the main reasons why the movie worked out so well. It is packed with interesting characters.
Driver was a really good casting choice. While I have never been a huge "Girls" fan, I quite like him as an actor and he has that whole subtlety thing going for him as he really shines when playing rather quiet characters. Farahani is a stunning beauty and I sure hope we get to see more from her in the future in Hollywood films. I can't believe they are missing out on her. of course, she is also a pretty decent actress and her character felt really authentic to me. I liked the black/white references, her likable mood swings when it comes to who she wants to be: a successful singer or a successful bakery businesswoman. It changes from day to day and that was pretty hilarious, but it still makes me as an audience member happy when she comes somewhat closer to her dream and it also makes Paterson happy who loves her very much obviously and she really loves him too. What sets the movie apart from other generic comedies are certainly the poetry parts. Initially, I thought it is just a nice little hobby for him, which is also what an audience member may think when listening to Paterson's poems for the first time, but the longer the film goes (with the references about the known writer from Paterson or the conversation with the girl who writes her own poetry), the more it becomes obvious how this is really the area of his life in which Paterson puts all his heart, outside his relationship of course. As a consequence, in the dramatic event of what happens Saturday night (which was a bit predictable, but not a problem at all), you can feel Paterson's pain really and see how he suffers from his loss and this is maybe the moment when Driver shines the most in this film.
In order to avoid being too enthusiastic, I would like to say that there were 2 or 3 things I did not like that much. The only somewhat bad moment was probably the scene with the gun at the bar because the entire film was supposed to be about a bit of an average week for the title character, but this one scene was clearly a break in tone and atmosphere for me, even if they still made the most of it with nobody overreacting other than the guests who did not know the actor character. Paterson's reaction also did not convince me too much as he seemed a bit too much of a hero there, maybe it was supposed to be a link to his military past, but I could have done very well without it. I also did not appreciate the final scene with the Japanese guy that much really, even if it is pretty significant in terms of getting Paterson to write again. I think there could have been more effective ways of closing the film. The gun scene and a couple other moments, like what happened to the book or the bus malfunction actually make it a not so average week for Paterson, even if with the last Monday shot, it all seemed back to normal again I guess. Another word on the bus malfunction: the reference about the vehicle possibly exploding and turning into a ball of fire was nice and I liked how Paterson and the barkeeper made fun of Jarmusch's words in the last mention of this metaphor about how Farahani's character and the old lady used the exact same words. To me, "Paterson" is one of my favorite films of the year, currently at number one even, but of course there will be many quality films still coming out. And Driver's approach also creates one of the most likable film characters of the year for sure. He loves writing, does not have a mobile phone (and does not want one), is in a loving relationship and is loyal to his friends. What more can you want? Now please go and see this gem of a movie. I have not seen too much Jarmusch yet and from what I have seen so far, it was okay, but I was not that impressed. "Paterson" changes my perception of JJ completely. You really don't wanna miss out on this wonderful character study.