Still from 2016's "Paterson."

except for the little things that manage to make an otherwise mundane day worth celebrating. 

 

In line with Jarmusch’s other features, Paterson feeds on quiet observation. But in doing so does it also merge tedium and a particularly parched branch of dry comedy. Because much of the success of a Jarmusch film wholly depends on how interesting his focal subject is, he becomes the sort of filmmaker who can only incur complete adoration or indifference, without much of a middle ground of which to speak. Paterson prompts indifference.

 

His previous feature, 2014’s Only Lovers Left Alive, was among his best movies, for instance, because his subjects were so anomalistic and therefore more intriguing than your average movie characters. It was a slice of life that showcased the day to day lives of vampires (really) so naturalistically it proved to be a thoughtful representation of what it’s like to be an outsider. Paterson similarly tries to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, attempting to reason that even the most uneventful of days can still be as lyrical and poetic as anyone's. Yet Jarmusch's reasoning isn't altogether cogent. It watches one man’s routine for seven days, but in its dedication to verisimilitude does it prove to neither be particularly illuminating or entertaining: it's boring.

 

There are some displays of winning humor, and plenty apt cultural observations. (What it has to say about a long-running marriage is particularly astute.) And Jarmusch does an effective job finding the parallels in the unexciting lives of so much of the lower-middle class and our own. (It’s true that days can eventually start looking exactly the same after keeping the same job and the same domestic life, and that sometimes the only highlight of one’s 24 hours is the chance to have a chilled drink at the local bar, for example.)

 

But in viewing Paterson and its various scrutinies of the everyday, we find that we appreciate Jarmusch’s work here much more than we become immersed in it. The characterizations are multidimensional, sure, and we cannot deny that Paterson’s relationship with his flighty wife (Golshifteh Farahani) is touching. (The family bulldog's cute, too.) But clock watching's undeniable. This might be a comprehensive portrait of man, but it’s also a sleepy-eyed one made to admire rather than take pleasure in. C

DIRECTED BY

Jim Jarmusch

 

STARRING

Adam Driver

Golshifteh Farahani

William Jackson

Harper

Chasten Harmon

Kara Hayward

Jared Gilman

Method Man

 

RATED

R

 

RELEASED IN

2016

 

RUNNING TIME

1 Hr., 58 Mins.

Paterson January 1, 2018        

aterson (2016), one of Jim Jarmusch’s most easygoing features, depicts a week in the life of a bus driver (Adam Driver, masterfully restrained) who dreams of someday becoming a poet. Quiet and contemplative, everything about it is underlined in

understatement; it is a smorgasbord of words unsaid, actions unperformed. It moves along as real life would, mostly uneventful

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