Paterson (2016), by Jim Jarmusch
Paterson, a quiet town in New Jersey, is the scenario picked by Jarmusch to portray the story of one man, Paterson (Adam Driver), who shares his name with the city, where time ticks slowly, with a sort of peacefulness and a calmness ever so typical of a utopian fantasy, yet so real.
We follow Paterson’s everyday life as a bus driver, who splits his life with his girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), a naive, somehow bizarre woman, moved by her own heart, exploring that side without boundaries. The house where they live is the ideal plateau for their artistic wanderings, wildly painting every object she finds, obsessed with black and white.
As soon as the alarm rings, Paterson begins one more day that takes him to same places, without deviating for a second of a trajectory that he chose to be his. Whenever he can, he writes poetry in his notebook, but his launch breaks are the moments when, in Passaic River Great Falls, in an idyllic scenery, he finds his greatest inspiration.
Water falls from bright air.
It falls like hair, falling across a young girl’s shoulders.
Water falls making pools in the asphalt, dirty mirrors with clouds and buildings inside.
It falls on the roof of my house.
It falls on my mother and on my hair.
Most people call it rain”
After finishing his duty, he goes back home to experience Laura’s gastronomic adventures on a daily basis, which Paterson pretends to enjoy not to hurt his sweet love. The balance between these two characters is absolutely captivating.
After dinner, it’s time to walk his girlfriend’s dog, Marvin, an English Bulldog, far from affable, and to go to a bar, enjoying Doc’s company (Barry Shabaka Henley), the house’s host, approaching subjects such as chess, the essence of love, but poetry in particular. Doc, enraptured, often mentions his “Wall of Fame”, under the watchful camera’s eye, where one finds photos of New Jersey characters who belong in our imagination, such as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Allen Ginsberg or Lou Costello.
At a certain point, Jarmusch shifts again the lens to the “Wall of Fame”, targeting the image Iggy Pop, which Doc proudly displays as yet another example of a New Jersey born individual. This fact is fictional and is deliberately included because, months later, Jarmuch would debut a documentary about the band The Stooges, entitled Gimme Danger. A brilliant way found by Jarmusch to foster the fans’ curiosity. It should be emphasized that the director had already collaborated with Iggy Pop on Coffee and Cigarettes (1993) and Dead Man (1995).
In a bull’s eye movement, Jarmusch includes a scene where a Japanese tourist chats with Paterson about the reason that led him to want to visit this city. And, at that moment, William Carlos Williams emerges (a doctor and American poet, from New Jersey), author of the poem about the city of Paterson, which enticed that tourist so much. It’s a seductive dialog, that stays in the memory due to its intimacy.
The way Jarmusch takes the literary universe into the narrative, symbolized in Paterson’s figure, is remarkable.
Paterson is a man who writes poems about simple things, and finds in them the same quietude that he lends to his own life. It’s his way of looking at the world through his sensitivity. Happiness can be seen in several ways. Paterson found his.
Jarmusch’s choice to slowly film this story, without sudden bursts, is intentional, and one has to mandatory absorb every second with a much-required stillness, in a real ode to poetry.