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Paterson – Director, Jim Jarmusch

March 25, 2017

Paterson was a popular film at TIFF last year and one I couldn’t fit into my schedule which I now regret. I just saw it at a local review cinema and totally loved it. The cast consists of some not very well known character actors who turn in an ensemble performance that is captivating. Adam Driver plays a bus driver named Paterson in the small New Jersey town of Paterson. Yes, he has the same name as the town he was born in and has lived in all his life. The film follows a week in Paterson’s life, each day much the same as the next and giving us a glimpse into the day to day lives of our hero and his community. The unique aspect of our bus driver is his love of poetry and he himself is a poet, writing his poetry in a small secret notebook during his free time. As far as I could tell, Paterson kept his poetry to himself and shared only snippets to his wife. His wife urges him to make a copy of his work and he promises to do so but in the end never gets around to it.

The film’s charm lies in the dialogue and the quirky characters including Paterson’s flakey artistic wife, the bartender at his local pub and its customers, the conversations of the bus riders, and Marvin the English Bulldog Paterson takes for a walk each evening. The climax of the film, if one can have a climax in a film with no real plot, comes when Paterson’s secret notebook is destroyed and all his poetry is lost. He is clearly devastated but the emotion is hidden. He clearly wrote the poetry for himself and meant it only to record his personal view of life and the world. At the end of the film he has an unexpected encounter with a visitor to the town that reopens the door to his poetry and redeems his loss. A simple but moving end to a simple but remarkable look at an ordinary life. For an entertaining evening and a relaxing hopeful look at life, I can’t recommend this film more. Enjoy!

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