In many ways Paterson, writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s latest film, is the antithesis of La La Land.
The film follows a week in the life of the titular Paterson, played by Adam Driver, a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey who also either is or isn’t a poet.
The definition of self plays a key role in Paterson (the movie). Were you to ask him at a bar, Paterson (the guy) would likely tell you he is a bus driver, as that is what he does Monday through Friday for a paycheck. But is Paterson (the dude) defined by his professional life, or by the rich internal life he leads, drifting through the day with an ever observant eye, absorbing sights and sounds and curating them into the poetry he keeps in a private notebook? Paterson (the Master of the Knights of Ren) himself never declares he is a poet, but an audience is unlikely to walk out of the film and tell their friends they saw a movie about a bus driver.
For my money, Paterson is the best film about a creative person I’ve ever seen, but even those who don’t quiet connect to the this largely plotless (like, one thing happens) observation of the mundane will likely find it exponentially more palatable than other “struggling artist” narratives. Where similar films tend to focus on the pursuit of recognition, Paterson focuses on the pursuit of creation, here presented as a meditative proceeds rather than a romanticized struggle.
Paterson (the motion picture) is never self-important or sanctimonious. You’ll find no tortured geniuses here, no aspersions of having sold out or pompous discourses on authenticity. It doesn’t talk down to its audience any more than it places it’s subject up on a pedestal. Unburdened by a need to praise or scorn the subject of the artist, Jarmusch’s lens is free to serve as a sort of translucent middleman drawing no more and no less than our attention to the quiet, creative life of a fellow who writes poetry.