Monday, February 6, 2017

Movie Review: "Paterson" (2016)

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Director: Jim Jarmusch
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 58 minutes

A week in the life of a poet named Paterson (Adam Driver), who works as a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey.

"Paterson" is written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, who is known for films like "Broken Flowers" and "Coffee and Cigarettes." It stars Adam Driver as the titular Paterson, who shares his name with the city in New Jersey in which he lives. Paterson works as a bus driver but is really an aspiring poet who keeps all of his original poems in a little notebook that he carries around and keeps tucked away from watchful eyes. Paterson has a girlfriend named Laura, played by Golshifteh Farahani, who is an aspiring everything, from painter to curtain maker to cupcake baker, and most recently, she wants to be an aspiring guitar player and potential country singer.

This film is a character sketch of the man Paterson, who runs through his daily routine in Paterson. He walks to work, drives his bus, listens to the conversations of those riding the bus, walks home, walks the dog, has a beer at the same local bar, goes home, rinse, lather, repeat every single day. Occasionally, Paterson recites one of his original poems through voice-over narration as writing appears on the screen. Even his poetry is inspired by rather mundane things like Ohio Blue Tip matches. His favorite poet is William Carlos Williams, and his poetry mostly follows the same format.

It may be Jim Jarmusch's thing to tell stories about everyday people and the banality of life with these understated movies about unremarkable individuals. That's really become the formula for indie filmmakers. The big question is can a filmmaker make rather unremarkable people interesting? The character of Paterson and his girlfriend Laura are at least moderately so. Laura is a bit of a hapless dreamer. Each day, she has a new dream that will allow them to "make it big." She thinks Paterson should copy his poems and try to show them to the world, though it's questionable if his poetry is even all that good in the first place. The film is well acted as Adam Driver gives a solid and nuanced performance that manages to say a lot without saying anything. Driver has been getting consistently better as an actor over the years and we've really come to love him and his body of work. He and Farahani have excellent chemistry together.

That being said, "Paterson" is not a mass appeal type of movie and will likely appeal to anyone outside of Jim Jarmusch's existing fan base. The acting is solid and the story is decent, and director Jim Jarmusch manages to make an ordinary set of people seem a little more than just simplistic in this great indie film.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 96%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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  1. I'm super interested in this one. I'm sort of fascinated by Adam Driver, and I love movies that are, at their core, about absolutely nothing but unglamourous life. Or un-life - I ADORED Jarmusch's last movie, The Only Lovers Left Alive, the one about the vampires. My friend described his movies as languid - that feels about right. :)

    1. Hi Sandra! I think this movie will be coming on Amazon Prime Video soon, do you have Amazon Prime? It's one of their original films from last year, they ruled 2016 with their awesome movies! We need to see The Only Lovers Left Alive, but we know from his past works like "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai," we do enjoy a lot of his work. "Languid" is the perfect word to describe Jarmusch's movies!! Thanks for reading! :)