December 4, 2016 -- This is a story about a bus driver with an artistic soul, his very artistic wife, an artistic kid, another artistic guy, and a mischievous dog. No surprise, then, that this is an artistic movie, made in director Jim Jarmusch's somewhat European proletariat-uplifting style.
Paterson is set in Paterson, N.J. It is about a bus driver whose name is also Paterson (played by Adam Driver, who is the new Darth Vader in Star Wars movies). His wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani of “Exodus: Gods and Kings”) is a breathtaking beauty, a painter, and the cupcake queen of Paterson. The locals in the film are proud of the famous people that were born in Paterson.
Prior to seeing this movie, the only thing I knew about Paterson, N.J. was its connection to famed boxer, and liberal celebrity cause, Reuben “Hurricane” Carter. One of the key figures in this movie is the award-winning poet William Carlos Williams (1883 – 1963) a New Jersey doctor (who also had a keen interest in painting) who wrote the epic poem “Paterson” in which he tried to do for the city of Paterson what James Joyce did for Dublin in the poem, “Ulysses.” Williams' poem “This is Just to Say” is entirely quoted in the movie.
Paterson is a guy who doesn't say much. He reacts to the world around him with minimal expressions. He bares his soul only through his poetry, but keeps his poetry in a secret notebook that he doesn't share with the world. He won't even admit to people that he is a poet. While Paterson doesn't show his feelings to the world, his dog Marvin, an English bulldog, does.
Marvin is very expressive, both in body language and in the funny noises he makes. Marvin is the comic relief in this movie, as well as initiating a pivotal action in the plot. Paterson is the home of William “Bud” Abbott of the famous comedy team of Abbott and Costello. This film has a lot of comedy in it. Not Abbott and Costello comedy, but a more subtle kind of humor.
Paterson's wife, Laura, is a classic beauty who loves to paint. She orders herself a high-priced guitar, part of some QVC-like promotion, a gift to herself allegedly from her husband, who would definitely not have made that purchase. Patterson keeps his feelings to himself about the guitar. In his private poems he confesses his all-encompassing love for her.
The story takes place over the space of one week. Every day is like every other day, but there are minor triumphs and tragedies that seem exaggerated in importance because of this sameness. There is also some drama in the story because of the crazy things that love does to a person's mind.
The underlying theme of the story, however, is the way that people connect to each other through the arts, painting, music, movies, and especially poetry. In two of the film's pivotal scenes, very different people connect through their love of poetry. This understated little film rates a B.
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