Of all the American films cruelly overlooked during the recent awards season, my second-favourite is Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, a lovely piece of work about a Paterson, New-Jersey-based bus driver and amateur poet (Adam Driver) who also happens to have the name Paterson, as well as his creative wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), who we mainly see in their home but who isn’t exactly imprisoned by the environment – her irrepressible thing for black and white designs provides the film with various minor key comic highlights.
It trickles along wonderfully, the narrative most notable for its use of quotidian rhythms and patterns, and it’s a typical celebration of frayed-around-the-edges blue collar Americana from a director whose work is always worth watching. Jarmusch’s flair for creating interesting characters and quirky situations is most evident during the scenes in which Paterson visits his local bar while taking his dog for a nightly walk. Here we follow an on/off soap opera-esque love affair between a couple of other patrons that eventually escalates into a potentially serious incident, and we get to hear the opinions of owner Doc (Barry Shabaka Henley); but Jarmusch’s way with a supporting figure is also apparent when he suddenly drops other individuals into the story, such as Paterson’s complaining colleague Donny (Rizwan Manji) or the Japanese poet played by Masatoshi Nagase. Jarmusch fans will recognise Nagase – he played the cool, Carl Perkins-obsessed tourist in Mystery Train – and here his character seems to confirm to Paterson that the bus driver is on the right track, living a simple life that’s filled with love, and concentrating on his hobby to such an extent that it’s making him happy. (****½)