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Paterson (2016)

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Jim Jarmusch's Paterson is a difficult story to explain.  Scratch that... it's a simple story to explain:  Adam Driver plays a bus driver called Paterson who lives and works in Paterson, New Jersey and writes poetry in his spare time.  It's a difficult story to sell: There isn't a whole lot else that happens.  We follow this everyman as he wakes up, eats the smallest bowl of cheerios I've ever seen, go to work, walk his dog, and go to a local bar for a drink.  And then we him do it again. And again... And I loved every minute of it.

That not a whole lot of note happens by way of plot means that this isn't a film for everyone, and my only complaint is that it will probably have very little replay value.  It may be that I connected with the character and story because of where I am in my life but I feel Driver is one of those faces in film you can't help but connect with.  His star is certainly rising right now, and I'm really looking forward to seeing him in Martin Scorsese's upcoming Silence.  Him and the supporting cast are excellent in Paterson, and the conversations so real that I often felt a bit embarrassed for listening in and intruding in their world.  Paterson has a monotonous routine and daily grind I, and many others watching should be able to relate to sometimes.  I found the film's continuous search for the beauty around us uplifting, heartwarming and funny.  The film highlights the small moments of beauty, the aspects in life that jump out and pass the time of day, breaking from the monotony.  Shots lingered on the city streets, greenery, water features and sunlight as Paterson drives his bus round it.  It's worth pausing to drink in the world around us every now and again.


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Paterson interacts with lots of different people as he goes about his days.  His wife is an optimist with a fresh dream every morning, and his bartender friend is always available for a catch up but the bustling city hides multiple people with a lot to offer too.  Two laborers discussing women on his bus.  A rapper rehearsing in a launderette.  A girl writing poetry as she waits for her mum.  Each are as real and interesting as the last if given the opportunity.  Saying that, the idyllic city of Paterson did seem to set unrealistic expectations of a friendly and approachable public - the contrast to reality was certainly hit home for me when a guy dumped his unwanted coleslaw in to my basket at the supermarket on the way home from the cinema.  That isn't to say I didn't enjoy the sentiment at the time though.  The film's city setting was bustling with people happy to express themselves creatively and feed their passions, and scenes are interspersed with Paterson putting pen to paper and screen, writing poetry on his everyday observations.  It may be writing poetry in between bus journey legs, learning guitar, making cupcakes, or typing words about films you have seen, but those passions and goals can often help stop the days from blurring.  Sometimes watching a film can do that, and this funny look at the world many of us live in did exactly that for me.


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