Paterson Review – Surprising, A Solid Story With Strong Performances

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Paterson, from Amazon Studios and Bleecker Street Media, presents the story of a couple on the path to finding the next chapter in life as routine sets in, dreams are lost until catastrophe moves or derails the dream.

Directed and written by Jim Jarmusch, Paterson stars Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley, Rizwan Manji, and Masatoshi Nagase with Nellie the dog as Marvin.

Paterson begins in Paterson, New Jersey, with Paterson, played by Adam Driver, a bus driver for the New Jersey Transportation Authority on the local route in Paterson, NJ. As we come to learn throughout the film, Paterson is the birthplace of quite a few celebrities.

Meeting Paterson, we find he is a poet, or feels he is and the jumble of words that run through his mind as he listens to the passengers engaged in routine conversations over trivia, simple Jeopardy information adds nuggets of wisdom and potential reservoirs to extract his poetry analogies as he writes, free form in a journal, poetry of a forgotten era.

Paterson has a routine, and the film, lives the routine as we meet his adoring wife, Laura, played by Golshifteh Farahani, who remains the constant force behind their hopes for the future. She is a stay at home wife and over the course of the seven days in which we are allowed access to Paterson’s world we find she has a new idea, a brainstorm that will propel them beyond the current monotony.

At the end of Paterson’s day, every day he and Marvin, the family dog, go for a walk. Around the corner, the two walk until they reach a local pub. Marvin, the dutiful dog, is forced to wait outside, while Paterson sits with Doc, played by Barry Shabaka Henley, and has a beer.

The two men talk on life and each night the routine remains a constant with minor deviations, the couple down the street are facing difficulties, Doc's wife comes in, nothing unforeseen or unpredictable. Life in Paterson is routine.

The next day we are greeted by his wife’s newest idea that will get them to a place of financial security. The bus job pays well and it is a solid employment, unions and all the benefits. It is just routine.

Laura is an artist and her life revolves around her husband and her quest for the next chapter to their lives. She is a country music sensation, an artist, a cupcake queen. Her ideas tap the vein of modern society and quite honestly speak to the American Idol generation. The idea that the common, unconnected person, can really make it by hitting one of these cords.

We learn through the film beat poet Allen Ginsberg the author of “Howl” is also from Paterson. A beat poet also Paterson fashions himself after the beat poets of the 1960’s  free form word choices. His poetry effort almost becomes a distraction until he meets a child who also understands the free form use of words, analogies, and nature to create beauty.

Paterson has a mini-earthquake in his life. After a successful day, he is faced with a challenge due in part from his own refusal to modernize and this becomes the catalyst for his final soul searching moment which is aided by an unknown Japanese tourist, played by Masatoshi Nagase, who speaks life to his dreams that had flat lined.

The scene also revolves around the American poet William Carlos Williams who published an epic poem titled Paterson, in five volumes, over a twelve-year period.

As the angst of creatively becomes obvious in our Paterson, as we see the Poets born in Paterson, New Jersey attracts strangers from around the world who come and sit in the park, stare at the pristine waterfall, contemplate the beauty of nature and sit and ponder their fate, hoping the familiarity of seeing the same inspirational markers will tap the creative wellspring within their heart and soul.

I really liked Paterson after my interpretation, which may be different than others, began to take shape.

At first, I thought Paterson was just another movie on a bad marriage. Boring routine, tedious expectation, putting one’s dreams on hold and even to a lesser degree small unnecessary chatter, pleasantries about nothing.

Then, it changed and I don’t know where or why, it wasn’t that the routines were driving me crazy, it was the routine represented the trenches, working through the dreariness, the predictability to get to the next level.

Having lived in New Jersey, seeing a film that works and revolves around a bus driver/poet in Paterson, New Jersey is on the surface almost impossible and then again, what makes it work is the idea that everyone desires more and we’re all on some sort of road to enlightenment.

Taking Paterson as an analogy of the path, where nothing is what it seems on the surface and even the surface works for some, for me the surface is the representation of a deeper meaning.

Fortunately, the film moves away from the single aspect of poetry, not that I dislike the notion of poetry, I felt more like it was almost a mockery of the art of poetry.

Adam Driver captures the essence of the creatively challenged poet. All that is missing is a turtleneck cable knit sweater and he is a beat generation poet. His angst is very real, as is his belief, without giving away an integral plot point, that he must maintain his work simply.

Golshifteh Farahani a butterfly to Driver’s steady, reliability, she embodies the searching, dedicated wife.

With Barry Shabaka Henley, our local pub owner, whose many credits include television and film and one may remember him as the Jazz Club owner, opposite Tom Cruise, and Jamie Foxx, in Collateral, once again plays a versatile every man.

Paterson, a contemporary love story, with character driven performances, has all the twists, pitfalls and hopes of everyday life and delivers.

Paterson opens December 28, 2016 in select cities and everywhere soon after.

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