“Sometimes an empty page presents more possibilities.”
Paterson is remarkable because it turns ordinary life into poetry, and even moves from scene to scene like a real poem. It’s ambiguous, beautiful, and will leave you thinking differently about the world around you. Just like a real poem can do. It finds beauty in the mundane, and expresses our desires to evolve in the world around us. The look of the film is one of the many reasons why I continue to come back time and time again. The beautiful camera dissolves of the waterfall, mixed with the everyday occurrences of the small town give the film a “magical realism” quality to it. This film is almost like a fantasy in a way. There is little conflict, there are people of all diversities talking and getting a long, and no one is ever on their cell phone. The characters in this film, for the most part, are all great people. Jarmusch’s world is filled with people interacting with one another, instead of wasting their life away using technology. When the bartender is asked “You getting a TV here,” he responds, “Hell no.” The streets of Paterson are very quiet. There are few people out at night, and there are no sirens going off. The passengers in the bus are all sitting, not on their phones, either admiring the outside world, or having conversations with one another. In a way, I think this is the world Jarmusch wishes he lived in.
I love the character of Paterson, because he just seems to have life figured out. He’s happy with his day-to-day life of driving his bus, writing poems, and spending time with his wife, who he gets a long with very well. He looks at the world in unique ways, and is very empathetic of others. The fact that Jarmusch cast an American actor and Iranian actress as a married couple is just incredible, and even though this movie came out a year ago, feels surprisingly unrealistic in the Trump era we live in today. Iranian citizens were temporarily banned from entering the United States, earlier this year, by the executive order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” It has caused some tension between the two countries, but Paterson reminds us that it shouldn’t matter what the color of your skin is or what country you’re from.
The relationship between Paterson and his wife, Laura, is so great. Even though they are very different people, they compliment each other so well. Paterson is very predictable, always having the same daily routine, and seems happy with the life he lives in. That is one great way of living life. However, his wife Laura, is much more unpredictable. She has big dreams and aspirations, but is always trying new things and looking for ways to spice up her life. Both are different ways to live, but healthy ways to live as well. I personally can relate more to Paterson. I don’t like change as much, and mostly seek a more simple life. However, I am starting to realize I should become more like Laura, because life is short, and I don’t want to miss on any opportunities I might regret later. I just love so much the strong bond they have for one another. When Laura confesses her admirations to become a country singer, Paterson does not laugh or pass judgment on her. He is very supportive, even though deep down he thinks it will probably pass over. He allows her to be her, and grow and make decisions on her own. Laura is also very good to Paterson. She allows Paterson to be Paterson. She doesn’t pass judgement on him for writing poems, or being a bus driver. “She understands me very well,” Paterson states when talking about his wife with the bartender. She doesn’t get mad at his decision to go the bar every night. She has complete trust in him, and it is one big reasons why their relationship works so well.
Adam Driver has become my favorite actor working today. He has that rare ability that he can completely transform into his particular characters he plays, and does it without any sort of makeup or prosthetics. He has been lucky in his young career, to portray characters that are completely different from one another, and he does them so incredibly well. I honestly did not see Kylo Ren at all while watching his character in this film. Just a good-natured, caring man. Driver is able to pull it off with his body language, facial experiences, and even the way he speaks. It is truly remarkable to behold.
Jim Jarmusch is a veteran filmmaker and master of his craft and it shows throughout this film, in the simplest and most subtle ways. An example includes a shot of Paterson fixing his mailbox in the foreground and the dog being shown in the background lurking out the window. It’s simple and is great foreshadowing when it is revealed that the dog is the one that is pushing the mailbox sideways. Another example is how Jarmusch lets the camera linger on the notebook that Paterson leaves on the couch just for a few seconds, and then pans to the dog. This is also great foreshadowing to what is to come later on. Jarmusch offers a lot under the surface and doesn’t explain things, that keeps me coming back. The use of black and white, and the twins constantly being shown, are great examples of the unexplained ambiguity that he uses in his films that give it more mystery and longevity.
Finding fulfillment is one of the most important things in life, and something that everyone is looking for. Many times we see characters in film who are incredibly wealthy, but still miserable and seeking that fulfillment. Movies like Citizen Kane and The Social Network showcase this brilliantly. So many people in real life are this way too. How many times do we see celebrities who are incredibly depressed and miserable? Despite their fame and fortune, there still seems to be something missing in their lives. Paterson reminds us that we can live life to the fullest and have that fulfillment with no fame or fortune at all. If you do have goals to become famous one day, then that’s great. I’m not saying not to reach for your dreams, but what I am saying is it’s ok if your life pans out maybe not as you expected and just ordinary. You can still make the most of it like the characters in Paterson do.
In my attempt to wrap this review up, I’ve realized that I love films like this because I’m not constantly having to follow a long to a convoluted plot, or trying to pay attention to lengthy dialogue. The slow pace of the story allows me to think about what I’m witnessing. I’m not saying all films need to be like this, but definitely more need to be. Paterson is a film that is unique because of how simple it is. There is not a lot of conflict, and most of the conversations had here are very friendly. This is so relieving to see, because most of the time when I watch movies there is always fighting and conflict going on. Most of the time when I watch the news, there is always traumatic events being shown. Paterson reminds us that life is never as bad as it is depicted on the news or in movies. Based on the decisions you make, it can be much more simpler and happy. Despite its slow pace and simple story, Paterson provides so much perspective and wisdom and offers unique symbolism, with great good-natured people in the forefront, and I just love it for that.