DATELINE: Nouveau Jersey
Jim Jarmusch has put together a film without a white-haired protagonist. Paterson is both the city in New Jersey and the name of an understated, amiable bus driver.
Jarmusch may be trying to illustrate that lives of quiet desperation are infinitely improved when there is a dose of quiet creativity. Though lives are falling apart all around him, Paterson relies on his poetic works to maintain balance. His wife is flaky and more prone to artistic pretension than art. He accepts all with Zen mastery.
His days may be more pedestrian as he takes the same route daily, and ends each day with a walk of the dog and a single beer at the local pub. Yet, there is magic everywhere, as evinced by the twins he always encounters after his wife makes an off-hand observation.
Indeed, Paterson’s dog Marvin, an English bull, makes yet another dog companion in recent movies that proves a boon companion. He steals the show and the movie is dedicated to the memory of Nellie who portrays Marvin.
Paterson does not solve the problems of those around him, but seems to suffer their pain in sympathy. Like Emily Dickinson, mentioned in passing in one scene, he lives without fame or acknowledgment of his art.
One lesson is simple. There are no chance encounters, and every meeting has meaning.
The poetry in the film resembles that of William Carlos Williams, but its mundane nature suits the goal of Jarmusch and of Paterson, poet and place. This could be the only film to give poet Williams recognition in the credits.
Many viewers will complain that seven days in Paterson offers no escape from ennui, but Jarmusch has woven together images and ideas that display deep meaning in detail. Paterson has a rich history that may surprise you.
The main performance by Adam Driver is sublime. He is sensitive and sad, kindly and a man who rises above his bus stop.
A rather special film, you must discover this one for yourself.