"Quiet, Droll, Inspiring Observational Comedy"
PATERSON is a droll comedy about a young bus driver living in Paterson, New Jersey with an artistic wife, a crazy English bulldog and a penchant for writing poetry like his literary mentor, the American poet William Carlos Williams. PATERSON is a deliberately paced slice-of-life movie, but its moments of droll comedy and keen comical observation make it one of the year’s best movies, though there are several “f” and “s” words that warrant strong or extreme caution.
Adam Driver of STAR WARS VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS plays Paterson, the young bus driver (the movie never reveals his first name). The movie focuses on seven days in the life of Patterson, his artistic wife, Laura, and their crazy dog, an English bull dog named Marvin. Paterson, who happens to live in Paterson, New Jersey, is a fan of the poetry of William Carlos Williams, a physician whose most acclaimed work of poetry is a five-part series of books named after the town Paterson.
Beginning on a Monday, Paterson wakes up every morning at about 6:30, kisses his wife, has a small bowl of Cheerios, and walks to the bus depot nearby. He writes a little poetry in the bus until his co-worker, an Indian man named Donny, who every morning gives Paterson a litany of his current woes, signals Paterson that it’s time to begin his bus route.
As Paterson drives his route, he smiles as he listens to some of the passengers talking about one topic or another. After his route is finished, Paterson walks home, gets the mail out of the mailbox and straightens the post attaching the mailbox to the ground. Somehow, the post always becomes slanted by the time Paterson returns home. Later, viewers get to see what happens each day to the mailbox, and it’s one of the funniest jokes ever recorded in a movie.
As Paterson sits down to hear his wife, Laura’s, latest adventures, Marvin the English bulldog hops onto the chair in the living room and makes strange, anxious sounds in anticipation of his nightly walk. Laura is an artistic woman who always has something happening. She decorates the drapes in the house with black circles. She designs clothes to wear. She’s also baking special cupcakes for the farmer’s market that Saturday, which she hopes might become a lucrative business. That Monday night, she tells Paterson she’s ordered a black and white guitar with guitar lessons, because she’d like to be a country and western singer dressed in the eye-catching black and white outfits she’s been creating.
Paterson listens attentively and is unfazed by Laura’s dreams and plans, which always sound extravagant but hopeful and full of energy. He encourages Laura to pursue her dreams, and Laura encourages Peterson to share his beautiful poems with the world and get them published. She also advises Paterson he better make copies of his poetry notebook just in case something happens to the notebook. Paterson promises he’ll do that this weekend.
After dinner, Paterson takes Marvin for a walk. On the way back home, Paterson stops for a single beer at a local neighborhood bar. There, the long-time black bartender and owner, Doc, regales Paterson with local history about the TV and movie comedian, Lou Costello, a hometown hero, who has a park named after him in Paterson, or about the photos of some musicians on the wall behind the bar. Doc and Paterson are also bemused by the relationship between Marie and Everett, a young woman and a lovesick actor who’s totally frustrated because Marie just wants to be friends.
Though the dialogue and side characters change, things are pretty much the same for Paterson’s daily routine. Until Friday and Saturday, that is, when momentous events will occur involving the bus, Everett the lovesick actor, Marvin the dog, and Paterson’s notebook full of little poems, some of which are love poems honoring his beloved wife.
PATERSON the movie is full of lyrical details, not the least of which are the title character’s small but ultimately profound poems. It’s also full of droll humor, including funny jokes about the dog’s goofy behavior, the private conversations Paterson hears on his bus and some funny encounters at the bar. On Monday morning, Laura tells Patterson she had a dream about having twins, so, during the rest of the movie, Paterson keeps seeing twins on the bus, in the bar or on the streets. Though the movie does move slowly, the humor and acting keep things engaging.
Writer and Director Jim Jarmusch’s movies often are an acquired taste, but, with PATERSON, he’s crafted what is an uplifting, appealing masterpiece of observational storytelling. The ending is inspiring and will leave moviegoers with a positive afterglow. Ultimately, PATERSON is a celebration of the poetry of everyday life, including our daily interactions with people. Even when Donny complains to Paterson about all his troubles, the fact that Paterson seems sincerely interested in what Donny says is in itself a healing act. Though religious faith isn’t mentioned, there’s a spiritual feeling to all this in PATERSON. The movie encourages viewers to slow down and appreciate the details and people around them.
Adam Driver gives an understated but very appealing performance as the title character. Golshifteh Farahani is excellent as Paterson’s energetic, loving and supportive wife. Barry Henley stands out as the sympathetic Doc. Last but certainly not least, Nellie the dog is absolutely precious as Marvin the English bulldog. Sadly, Nellie passed away after making this movie.
The only sour note in PATERSON is several gratuitous “f” words in two or three scenes, along with a smattering of other gratuitous obscenities and light profanities. There’s also a tense scene of potential violence, but it passes pretty quickly and doesn’t destroy the rest of the movie’s comic atmosphere or inspiring moments.
(C, BB, Ro, P, LL, V, N, A, M) Light redemptive worldview with strong positive moral elements celebrates the poetry of everyday life, including our daily interactions with people, a kind act by a stranger inspires the protagonist and the title character’s marriage with his wife is very positive (it’s clear they love one another), in a droll observational comedy about a bus driver with an artistic wife, a crazy English bulldog and a penchant for writing poetry, plus some light Romantic elements and a patriotic element in a photo of the appealing protagonist in a Marine uniform; 17 obscenities (mostly “d” and “s” words but five “f” words) and three light exclamatory profanities; a man pulls a gun, man heroically shoves another man to the ground, dog causes brief destruction at one point; no sex scenes implied or depicted, but man lies in bed with his wife and kisses her or holds her before going to work; partial rear female nudity as man’s wife sleeps in bed; light alcohol use; no smoking or drugs; and, lovesick man threatens people.
PATERSON is a droll comedy about a young bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey with an artistic wife, a crazy English bulldog and a penchant for writing poetry. The story shows seven days in the life of Paterson, the bus driver and poet. He wakes up each morning, walks to work, listens to some conversation on his bus, listens to his wife, Laura’s, dreams and plans, and visits a neighborhood bar for one beer each night while walking their dog, Marvin. Over the weekend, several momentous things happen.
PATERSON the movie is full of lyrical details, not the least of which are the title character’s small but profound poems. It’s also full of droll humor, including really funny jokes involving the dog, who’s a bit ornery. Though the movie moves slowly, the humor and acting keep things engaging. Writer/Director Jim Jarmusch has crafted an uplifting, appealing masterpiece of observational storytelling. Ultimately, PATERSON is a celebration of the poetry of everyday life, including our daily interactions with people. The only real sour note is several “f” words and a smattering of other obscenities.