Bus driver Paterson, Adam Driver, lives in the city of Paterson, New Jersey with his flighty wife Laura, Golshifteh Farahani, whose career ambitions are ever changing. Paterson follows a similar routine each day as he gets up progressively later each morning, completes his shift as a bus driver, writes poetry during his break, takes his dog for a walk, gets a drink at the same bar and talks with his wife about her day. Minor shifts begin to occur leading to changes in Paterson's outlook on the world but throughout he remains committed to his wife, his friends and his poetry.
How pleasant in today's day and age in which arguing married couples regularly appear on screen to see two people in a committed relationship who genuinely love one another despite their difficulties. We see that Laura has trouble persevering with different career paths and that her interests are ever changing but when she requests a guitar it does not lead to a big, dramatic fight but a minor shift in the relationship. The first poem that Paterson writes describes his love for her in connection to the cigarettes that she enjoys smoking and the matches used to light them, this illustrates their connection better than any montage of them dating or love scene could. In the end she finds something that she loves, making muffins, and he is happy to see her be successful, the image of a supportive relationship.
The use of poetry throughout the film was inventive as we hear Driver's voice reading out poetry and see the lines of the poem appear over shots of him driving and his surroundings as he goes about his day. Poet Ron Padgett wrote most of the poetry that appears in the film and he did a great job because while poetry often annoys me with how precious and desperate to prove it's important it is these poems were actually good at conveying the wonders of the small aspects of our lives. The poems never begin as though they are grand or epic, he talks about beer or water in the river, but they end up in rather profound places. If any modern piece of cinema could motivate you to become a part time poet this film could.
Driver's performance is revelatory as he carries a film that's make or break depending on the quality of the lead performance. With just small gestures he manages to convey an interior struggle that feels true to a character who is not the most outwardly expressive person. In scenes that could seem rather suspect such as when Paterson talks to a very young girl about poetry and essentially attempts to befriend her, he is able to make his character seem well meaning instead of creepy. His romantic lead, Golshifteh Farahani is also great as she is a bit of a dream girl, beautiful and artistic, but she manages to add a vague sense of realism to her character that gives their relationship integrity.
I would have nominated this film for Best Picture over Lion (2016) and Fences (2016) because it's delicately crafted and well written. I like seeing films that actually show you why the artistically gifted character is talented in the form of presenting their art and this film manages to do it artistically. It was a relaxing, soothing experience and a nice break from the superhero films and Keanu Reeves vehicles currently being released. A pleasant film that makes the lives of normal people interesting.
A master at work
Creating poetry with pictures
Showing you people, talking words
Showing you scenes
Some simple and some seem not
At the end what lingers in you though
Is a deep heavy feel
The work of a master
- Finesse Movie Reviews