Jim Jarmusch’s excellent 2016 indie film, Paterson, stars Adam Driver as a young bus driver named Paterson. The film documents an ordinary week in the life of the young man as he goes to work, writes poems about simple, mundane objects, and spends time with is wife and dog. It’s a beautiful film with a great central performance from Driver. However, even though Paterson is just a simple everyday man, after watching the film, I’ve come to a realization that he is a modern-day cinematic hero.
Paterson isn’t selfish, rude, or narcissistic (he doesn’t even have a cell-phone). He doesn’t complain when something doesn’t go his way. He’s just a kind, gentle man who loves his wife and dog, shows up to work everyday, and enjoys the simple things in life. He is empathetic towards others, asking people how they are feeling and even coming up to complete strangers and complimenting them or asking what they’re doing. These are things that I sadly feel are being lost in our modern day society. People are becoming more self-centered, isolated, and driven by technology more than actual human-beings. I will even admit I have fallen under this trap over the past few years. However, watching this simple but brilliant film really struck a chord with me and has inspired me to change and become more like Paterson.
Some of the classic heroes in cinema like Superman, Rocky Balboa, Indiana Jones, and Ellen Ripley are great, but are not really relatable. No one is ever going to be able to fly or have the opportunity to fight aliens in space. That’s why I always loved Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird as the selection for the greatest hero in cinema by AFI. He was just an ordinary man who was a great father and fought to do the right thing. Paterson is like that to an extent where he’s just a simple man and extremely relatable to most everyday people. We can relate to this guy, and it is very easy to do the things he’s doing in the film. We don’t have to buy a bullwhip, fight bad guys, or learn to fly a spacecraft. Just simply being kind to people, forming strong relationships, and standing up for yourself and others are key things that anyone can learn to do and the world will be a better place if everyone did this from time to time.
It doesn’t hurt to have conversations with people you may see everyday, but may not have even talked to before. You never know what will come out of it. If you have just an ordinary, mundane life compared to what you’ve dreamed about, that’s ok. Because the important things in lives are ones that we may overlook. It’s our family, friends, and jobs. If we aren’t happy doing this, and we keep on waiting for a big break in our lives and for things to change, then it may be too late, and we haven’t truly lived life to the fullest.