“I like how all the circles are different,” Paterson encouragingly remarks to his carefree, dilettantish girlfriend Laura, whose unbridled artistic whims include, most visibly, decorating almost every surface in their shared home with black and white polka dot variations. Similarly, Jarmusch’s film is cinematic pointillism at its finest, built upon rhymes and repetitions in which minor variations add color and scope to the routines of life and the greater arc only becomes visible from a distance.
Reflections also play an important role for both Paterson the character and Paterson the film; as the passing world literally reflects off of the windows and mirrors of Paterson’s bus, so too do the minor objects and ephemeral moments of his life reflect off of Paterson, mulled and mulled over, becoming the grist for his humble, observational poems which are themselves, in their modest scope, reflections upon as well as reflections of.
Characters, too, reflect one another — not only the many twins who populate the film, forming internal rhymes within its stanza-like construction, nor simply the other poets Paterson encounters on his travels (all of whom are, pointedly, more extroverted about their gifts). Both Laura and their charismatic bulldog Marvin represent the poles of Paterson’s artistry, she all of the passion without the routine, he all of the regimentation without any of the poetry. (This latter doubling, and the conceit that it is the act of self reflection, the synthesis of routine into poetry, that gives meaning to our otherwise animal existence, is slyly underscored by a photo on Paterson’s nightstand which shows he was previously in the Marine Corps, the branch of the American armed forces here noteworthy not only for their grueling self-regimentation but also for their mascot: the bulldog.)
Despite a few unsubtle moments, Paterson ranks among Jarmusch’s most moving, beautiful, and humane films, not only accurately evoking the life and thought of many hobbyist or semi-professional creatives, but achieving a near perfect harmony of form and content, luxuriating in the productive rhythms of the banal, and advocating convincingly for the benefits of observation and contemplation, a balance of the outward and inward gaze.
The only but interesting extra is a 25 minute Q&A with Adam Driver. It takes in such things as the philosophy behind the film, shooting days, casting et al. He seems a very erudite and friendly person and it is definitely worth a watch.
Drama, Romance | USA, 2016 | 15 | 27th March 2017 (UK) | Soda Pictures | Dir.Jim Jarmusch | Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Nellie,Barry Shabaka Henley | Buy:Paterson [Blu-ray]