Some viewers will find Paterson indescribably dull. It’s the antithesis of the Hollywood blockbuster. The action is sparse, the pace is as slow as a bus stuck in an inner city traffic jam and there is SUBTITLED POETRY on the screen!
Another, smaller group of cinema goers will likely find this one of the greatest films ever made. Indie auteur Jim Jarmusch is undisputed left-field royalty and, as he did for Bill Murray in the 2005 film Broken Flowers, he has crafted another wonderful hangdog role, this time for Adam Driver, whose slightly perplexed, lost-in-thought demeanour is terrifically engaging.
Driver plays Paterson, who lives in Paterson, New Jersey, and who adores the 20th Century US poet William Carlos Williams, whose master work was the collection Paterson, based on the city. Paterson drives the No.23 bus, he’s married to the beautiful, whimsical Laura (played by Iranian star Golshifteh Farahani), who’s obsessed with black and white objects and has an English bulldog, Marvin, who keeps an envious eye on his master.
Another echo of Bill Murray, each day Paterson wakes at the same time (6.12am), kisses his wife, gets up and eats his Cheerios and departs for work, where he drifts off in his melancholy way and creates poems in his head that he later jots down. Occasionally he’s jolted back into reality by conversations on the bus, which inspire more verse.
You wonder where Paterson the film is going. Will anything ever happen? Does it even matter? Like William Carlos Williams, it’s the elevation of life’s mundane patterns and routines into subjects worthy of poetry that make the film such an enjoyable couple of hours.
But, by the way, things DO happen. Keep your eyes on Marvin.
Certificate: 15. Runtime: 106minutes
Paterson is on general release in the UK from Friday, November 25