People love Paterson, but I’m not one of them. Jim Jarmusch’s new film is so Jarmuschian, so laid back and laconic, I’m surprised it’s got the energy to make it on to the screen.
Adam Driver is a bus driver and private poet, called Paterson, living in the small New Jersey town of Paterson. All around he sees twins and doppelgängers, coincidences and accidents. Paterson has been home to several famous residents, including poet William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg and Lou Costello,. What can it all mean?
Nothing, it turns out. This is a man who sees gentle poetry in the rhythms of everyday life, in match boxes and traffic lights. He has a girlfirend, Laura, a kooky, pretty thing who paints and designs wallpaper and is learning guitar. Laura is quite the most annoying creation in movies, a woman I found entirely patronised and equally patronising and manipulative. She is played by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani.
Even more irritating is Marvin the English bulldog. I don’t like dogs in films, I don’t find them charming or funny. And this one is over indulged by both characters and director and the two audiences with whom I’ve suffered through this bogus quirk-fest, indulged until he ruins the only good thing in anyone’s life.
Solace can be taken in the poetry, perhaps, which scribbles across the screen in an effort to enoble the everyman artist who finds comfort in his routine and his verse. Driver delivers it nicely in voice-over but frankly, it’s Pam Ayres standard, at best destined for greeting cards and Facebook posts.
What really got me was the infectious lack of ambition here, the arc decidedly, relentlessly small town and quiet, as unbothered as a bus timetable.
In trying to subvert cliches or find beauty in them, Jarmusch scorns and sneers at them from his high horse, even succumbing to one of his own in the form of a Japanese tourist.