Critics Consensus

Paterson adds another refreshingly unvarnished entry to Jim Jarmusch's filmography -- and another outstanding performance to Adam Driver's career credits.



Reviews Counted: 243

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Average Rating: 3.7/5

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Movie Info

Paterson is a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey--they share the name. Every day, Paterson adheres to a simple routine: he drives his daily route, observing the city as it drifts across his windshield and overhearing fragments of conversation swirling around him; he writes poetry into a notebook; he walks his dog; he stops in a bar and drinks exactly one beer; he goes home to his wife, Laura. By contrast, Laura's world is ever changing. New dreams come to her almost daily. Paterson loves Laura and she loves him. He supports her newfound ambitions; she champions his gift for poetry. The film quietly observes the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.

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Critic Reviews for Paterson

All Critics (243) | Top Critics (41)

  • As Paterson makes these rounds again and again, Jarmusch unhurriedly crafts a cinematic ode to finding both art and delight in the quotidian.

    Feb 10, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • It's not exactly riveting material, and even Jim Jarmusch - the veteran writer-director who traffics in the day-to-day contemplation of human existence - struggles to make "Paterson" pop.

    Feb 10, 2017 | Rating: C | Full Review…
  • Jarmusch, who made supernatural vampires seem human in Only Lovers Left Alive, now finds inspiration in the mundane.

    Feb 9, 2017 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • A filmmaker telling his story in pictures and the limitlessness of control he brings to his art. What more can one ask of cinema?

    Jan 27, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Jim Jarmusch's latest has moments of beauty that help compensate for a slightly static narrative.

    Jan 26, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

    Rafer Guzman

    Top Critic
  • Jarmusch is a next-level storyteller with an amazing ability to deliver a scene that works on face value and as a metaphor

    Jan 19, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Paterson

Adam Driver delivers a sensitive performance in this intelligent character study that shows us a week in the life of a man living a melancholy existence, and it is great to see how Jarmusch uses black-and-white patterns to underline the character's ordinary routine.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Over the course of a week we meet Paterson (Adam Driver), a bus driver in Paterson, NJ, who is also a poet, and his live-in girlfriend, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). This beautifully filmed gem celebrates an everyman who quietly observes life and comments on it through his writing. Laura, meanwhile, seems to be a creative soul herself, designing her own clothes, decorating their home, learning to play guitar, baking cupcakes, and all done in a black and white color scheme. Adam Driver seemed perfectly cast as a man who is not aware of his talent, but feels driven to write. Ms Farahani is stunningly beautiful and lit up avery scene she was in. I definitely want to see more of her work. There are some heavy themes (race relations, marital difficulties, and loss) addressed, but delivered with a light, sometimes humorous, touch, a Jarmusch specialty. The pace is slow, almost languid, but if one has the patience, this film touches deeply.

Mark Abell
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

Using the word profound when speaking about a film is almost too complimentary. While no film is perfect, five star ratings are given out regardless. In the endless age of blockbuster films revolving around big explosions or superheroes fighting each other, it's always nice to have an engaging independent film that makes you think about life. Not only did Paterson send my mind through a loop during my viewing, but I was genuinely attached to everything that was going on and this film really does slap you in the face with how simple your life is, without even realizing it. This is one of my favourite films of 2016 and this is why it comes highly recommended from me. Films like this can be discussed for days, as their subject matter is much more than meets the eye. Following a man named Paterson, from a town called Paterson, who drives the 23 Paterson bus from Monday to Friday, who comes home from work, talks about his day with his wife Laura, eats dinner, walks his dog to the bar where he has one beer every night before coming home to bed, it seems as though it may become repetitive; That is precisely the point. He is an aspiring poet who writes about his life experiences, which in turns reflects the entire film as a whole. The entire film itself is one big poem that can't be fully understood until the very end. Not to give anything away, but I recommend being on the lookout for doubles of everything. From a very simple conversation about wanting to have twins, had by Paterson and Laura in the first few minutes of the film, twins are seen quite often throughout. It seems as though there is a pattern showcased in some capacity in almost every single frame of this film. Whether it's present in Laura's art or simply a repeat of an event earlier in the week. There was so much attention to detail, whether it was the focus on how simple life can be, how the set designer composed every set, or how a few words exchanged between two unlikely people could change the course of the film. While I must admit that this film floored me from beginning to end, it really isn't for everyone. Film lovers and casual moviegoers with a very open mind will be the ones who truly love Paterson. Due to the fact that it has a very bizarre narrative and almost every time he runs into someone of interest, they happen to be a twin, it may just be weird and off-putting for some viewers who weren't expecting something this though-provoking. As long as you know there is a specific reason behind everything being showcased, in that it's meant to rhyme, I truly believe that you may find Paterson to be an endearing as I did. Writer/director Jim Jarmusch had a very specific vision when writing and translating his work to screen, and I believe he accomplished it beautifully. Overall, this is a finely crafted drama that is much more than it's premise suggests it to be. Filled with terrific performances by Adam Driver and Golshifteh Farahani, poetic direction by Jim Jarmusch, and a very though-provoking conclusion that will even have the most uninterested person thinking twice. Paterson makes you think if you are really doing enough with your life and also showcases that the reality of that doesn't have to be all that bad, because sometimes being invisible to everyone doesn't really matter. This film blew me away and when I look back on 2016, Paterson will easily be a film to remember. If you haven't heard about this film yet and have now been intrigued, I don't believe you will be disappointed.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

Throughout his career, Jim Jarmusch has made films best described as an acquired taste. With deliberate pacing, droll, deadpan humor, and zero interest in cutting away from a master shot unless it's absolutely necessary, his films made a lifelong fan out of me. HIs first movie, STRANGER THAN PARADISE, which was completely told in master shots, told the story of two men who willingly go to Cleveland in the dead of winter to visit a woman. What's not to love about that?!! Now, with PATERSON, Jarmusch plays things straight, never going for an easy laugh, and the result is one of the best films of 2016. Told over the period of a week, the film follows a Paterson, New Jersey bus driver (Adam Driver) named Paterson. So, to keep score, Driver plays a driver named Paterson in Paterson. Jarmusch likes dualities in this film. Paterson lives in a simple house with his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) and their dog Marvin. Every week day, he wakes up, has a bowl of cereal, listens in on bus conversations, walks his dog, stops at a local bar for exactly one beer, comes home to his wife, and repeats it all over again the next day. A quiet man, Paterson writes poetry in a notebook, and his words spill across the screen and we often hear him reciting them or working them out as he goes. The poems, deceptively simple works of beauty, reveal the deep wells in Paterson's soul, and Driver proves himself to be enormously soulful in the role. Never once does he betray his character by winking at the audience. Instead, he's a gentle, kind man with hidden reserves of pain. How he faces the hurt in others or the disappointment in his own life should serve as a lesson to us all. This is a film about grace. It's also about the soul of an artist. The joy, for Paterson, is in the creation, not the outcome. We live in a results-based culture, and PATERSON encourages us all to relax and enjoy the process. It would be easy to categorize PATERSON as slow, repetitive, and almost completely lacking in conflict. There are many times in the film where I found myself talking back at the screen, worried that Paterson's actions would lead to something traumatic. Jarmusch, however, is so confident in his material, that he never uses drama for cheap effect. He's going for something deeper, more instructive. If only we could all be as supportive to our spouses. If only we could listen more or be compassionate to those we would normally fear. There's a scene, for example, where Paterson has a conversation with a group of guys who could easily be mistaken for gangbangers. My mind raced, thinking about where this could lead. The fact that it didn't go where I expected it to go made me sit up and respect Jarmusch's intentions. Paterson seems to surround himself with people whose lives appear infinitely more complex than his own. His boss complains a lot, and there's a guy at the local pub who's heartbroken over being recently dumped by his girlfriend. Paterson's wife, while the epitome of kindness, has a lot of goals. She has a distinctive flair for decorating their house and her burgeoning cupcake business is probably the coolest use of graphics since my last visit to the Trina Turk store in Palm Springs. She's all about black and white, including the colors of a guitar she wants to purchase in order to pursue a career as a country singer. She's a bit all over the place, whereas Paterson remains sweet and supportive of her every step of the way. How, you may ask, can a film be this good when it just seems so nice, nice, nice? Perhaps it's because it's so refreshing to see when so often the multiplexes offer up people behaving badly in addition to a non-stop pummeling of explosions. You just have to look a little harder for the conflict in PATERSON. Jarmusch likes to keep the aesthetics of his films as simple as possible, yet a look at any of his frames reveals what I like to call a quiet aching. He's helped immeasurably by Frederick Elmes' gorgeous cinematography. Elmes has had one of the most incredible careers, with such titles as ERASERHEAD, THE RIVER'S EDGE, BLUE VELVET, THE ICE STORM, SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK, NIGHT ON EARTH, KINSEY, and this year's HBO masterpiece, THE NIGHT OF. He has bolstered the careers of some of the greatest filmmakers of all time and has done so without ever calling attention to his work. He's not a "look at me" type of cinematographer, but a "look with me" one instead. With PATERSON, he serves the material and more importantly, the character, making it feel like a shared experience. So, if you have patience, an open mind, and a desire to connect with a story of simple pleasures, then PATERSON may just give you hope. Many keep talking about how we need a film like LA LA LAND right now. We need a film that makes us feel good, especially when 2017 has the potential to be such a shit storm. I would counter that we need a film like PATERSON even more. LA LA LAND may make you feel good, but PATERSON shows you how.

Glenn Gaylord
Glenn Gaylord

Super Reviewer

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