Paterson – VIFF 2016 Review


A charming glorification of the everyday and the quotidian grace and delicacy all around us flutters at the generous heart of Paterson, Jim Jarmusch’s latest and twelfth feature film. Centering on an excellent Adam Driver in the eponymous role as a working-class poet in the wee Jersey hamlet that shares his name, he relates to the world and composes his verses mid the soft magic of his home, his work (he’s a bus driver), his neighbourhood, and the people living there.

Paterson, the blue-collar bard, is too likable and sincere for this film to be truly picaresque, though much of its magnetism comes from the episodic nature of Paterson’s routine, and the film occupies a typical week in his life.

He’s up by 6am, has a specific and contemplative breakfast, walks to work, finds time through the day to write verse, overhears any number of natural conversations from his passengers, is home by 6pm, has dinner with his wife, walks the dog, haunts his local tavern for a single beer and lively discourse with the barkeep (Barry Shabaka Henley) before returning home for bed, repeat.

Paterson’s wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) is also a creative type, she’s obsessed with monochrome as we see in her artisanal cupcakes and interior design, and she also paints her muse, a delightful English bulldog named Marvin. Paterson’s family fits him well, they compliment one another wonderfully, showing support and affection with frequency.

“Without love what reason is there for any of this?” asks Everett (William Jackson Harper), a troubled friend of Paterson’s after a lover’s spat, and something about these words seem to stir throughout the film, again speaking to the idea that we are all greater artists than we know.

Small-town Americana has been a staple in cinema since its inception, and Jarmusch’s exceptional eye finds glory in place and person in ways that are truly profound. Just as Paterson, New Jersey exhilarated William Carlos Williams to pen an epic poem, so too does this film exhilarate the audience to smoothly and tenderly see our typical days as transcendent.

Paterson proves that Jarmusch may well be some kind of guru, part Zen master and part indie auteur, and his latest film reminds us in its droll and wonderful way that beauty surrounds us everywhere. Paterson is a profound film and a modestly polished masterpiece.

Taste of Cinema Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)

Author Bio: Shane Scott-Travis is a film critic, screenwriter, comic book author/illustrator and cineaste. Currently residing in Vancouver, Canada, Shane can often be found at the cinema, the dog park, or off in a corner someplace, paraphrasing Groucho Marx. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneScottravis.