The American Auteur
Paterson, the new cinematic venture by American auteur Jim Jarmusch, is whimsical and quiet – which is not to say it isn’t dramatically impactful as well. The film is set in modern-day Paterson, New Jersey, a city on a slow return to its former glory. The city houses notable landmarks like the Great Falls National Park and Hinchliffe Stadium, the former of which is utilized symbolically in the film.
Paterson follows a NJ Transit bus driver – also named Paterson – who is played by Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Girls). The incidentally titular character also writes poetry on the side and lives a life of routine: driving the bus, working on poems, eating exotic and strange meals made by his eccentric lover Laura (Played by Golshifteh Farahani). The city of Paterson is no stranger to the subject of poetry, having been the title and influence for William Carlos Williams acclaimed epic (as well as making appearances throughout the writing of Allen Ginsberg). Jarmusch embraces the history of Paterson whole-heartedly, allowing it to create a looming, allusive atmosphere for the characters to exist in.
Adam Driver further expands his acting repertoire with his work in Paterson; it is becoming difficult to deny that he is one of the most impactful actors currently working on the silver screen.
The film is broken into a series of days, depicting a full week in the life of Paterson. Each sequence begins with the man waking up in the morning. We witness the routine – one which anyone working a nine-to-five job and struggling to make ends meet will recognize. The repetitiveness of the narrative style may initially be received like a weakness, but as the film progresses it becomes one of its greatest assets. By the time Saturday arrives, the monotony of the film has become hypnotic – and at the same time, the repetition invites the audience to wish for something to break. The director purposefully plants motifs in the early development of the narrative which allowing us to gently drift on a raft in his well-organized ocean.
The subtle and touching moments between Driver and Farahani are enough to carry even the dullest scenes. Adam Driver further expands his acting repertoire with his work in Paterson; it is becoming difficult to deny that he is one of the most impactful actors currently working on the silver screen.
What struck me as different from Jarmusch’s most recent work is the procedural nature of Paterson; this places it in closer stylistic connection to Broken Flowers and Coffee and Cigarettes than it does Only Lovers Left Alive or Limits of Control. But wherever it is best situated in its auteur’s filmography, Paterson is one of Jarmusch’s most well-rounded films to date. Even the poetry written for the movie is excellent.
There appears to be a developing trend among some of North America’s most prominent filmmakers. There seems to be an impulse to break the formal traditions of commercial cinema, to expand the idea of what constitutes a mainstream narrative feature. Jarmusch has always been invested in breaking cinematic ground, but with Paterson he demonstrates that he’s not afraid to attempt to fundamentally shift how we view film and how auteurs can produce features that will reach wide audiences.
Title: Paterson (2016)
Running Time: 113 min.
Directed by: Jim Jarmusch
Written by: Jim Jarmusch
Cinematography: Frederick Elmes
Music by: Jason Moran
Cast: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Kara Hayward, Sterling Jerins, Luis Da Silva Jr.,Frank Harts, William Jackson Harper, Jorge Vega, Trevor Parham, Masatoshi Nagase, Owen Asztalos, Jaden Michael, Chasten Harmon, Brian McCarthy