Paterson is a film that will pleasantly take you by surprise. Let the words wash over you like rain, let the images seep into your skin. You’ll understand what I mean when it’s all over
“If you ever left me I’d tear my heart out and never put it back”
A quiet observation of the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.
Image credits: IMDb and ImpAwards
My partner actually asked if we could rewatch Paterson, which surprised me. Surprised because Paterson is a film that requires a fair bit of attention. It’s not one of those films where you can miss 10 minutes and still know what’s going on. I don’t know if that is how it was intended to be, but watching Paterson for the second time, I actually found myself noticing little things that just carried so much weight in the film without even realising it before. I’ll give examples of these things later on but suffice to say that if Paterson were a book, you’d discover a lot more about the film by reading between the lines.
I cannot hide my fondness for both Jim Jarmusch as a director and Adam Driver as an actor. To me, this pairing is quite literally, a gift to film, much like De Niro and Scorcese. You just know that there’s something special there and it’s raw, and it’s beautiful, and we’re lucky to witness it on screen.
Jim Jarmusch’s previous film Only Lovers Left Alive is also a movie I have high regard for, and it was this film that introduced me to Jarmusch’s genius. Adam Driver’s character is named Paterson, which also happens to be the name of the town where the film is set. In its own way, the city of Paterson is as much a part of this story as the main actors. Paterson, in this sense, is a reflection of the man Paterson – like twins are a genetic reflection of each other. There’s no other way to describe it.
One of the recurring themes in the film is twins. They are seen almost everywhere in the movie as Paterson walks to work, drives his bus or walks home again. It becomes a lot more noticeable after a particular scene in the film, but I never noticed any of this the first time I saw Paterson. This is why rewatches are so useful to do – you really can pick up so much you miss the first time around. I tend to find this is the case when I see a movie I have been looking forward to. I just can’t take everything in during the first viewing. I like to see movies like that a second time when I am calmer and more aware of what is really happening in the film. I actually think a “review” is much easier to write when you’ve seen the film more than once.
What’s so endearing about the character Paterson is how effortlessly he goes about his day-to-day, almost entirely void of stress and hindrances that seem to bring most other people down. One important thing to recognise about Paterson is the way he avoids technology – almost to the point of being crippled by it.
His wife is a creative, free-spirited woman who actually seems to polarise Paterson’s existence. She appears to be disorderly and quite chaotic in the way she goes about living her life. She doesn’t have a job and spends most of her time coming up with a different life-goal to pursue every other day. At times I think this manages to breach Paterson’s wall of order and routine, but he never shows it. They do love each other a great deal despite their differing personalities and quirks. They are the epitome of compromise in a relationship.
But the best thing about this film aside from the performances is, of course, the poetry. If you are a creative person, you’ll fall in love with the way that Jarmusch brings each and every poem to life with the imagery and perfect pacing of the film. Adam Driver’s narration doesn’t hurt either.
Paterson is a film that will pleasantly take you by surprise. Let the words wash over you like rain, let the images seep into your skin. You’ll understand what I mean when it’s all over.