Paterson Film Review (2016)

So I just finished watching Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson…

This movie tells the story of the titular Paterson, a bus driver who writes poems in his spare time. His wife, Laura, aspires to be a singer and baker. Over the course of a week, this couple goes through their day to day activities, and Paterson also interacts with the inhabitants of the city of Paterson, New Jersey where he lives.

This was my first Jarmusch film, and while I appreciate his technical ability and his subtlety, I feel like this film was not a good introduction to him. I was kind of disappointed.

Let’s start with what I did like. Decent characters and performances (Adam Driver gave a very reserved performance as Paterson), good cinematography and editing, great score, etc.

All the elements of what could have been a great film were there. The characters were well defined and the technical elements were really strong. But Jarmusch sort of did absolutely nothing with it.

This is because there was no real conflict with the main characters. Everything that’s interesting is relegated to the side characters and we don’t spend enough time with them to really care about what’s going on there. We spend all our time with Paterson and Laura, and while the seeds of a degrading relationship are planted, nothing happens.

The only thing of note that happens is that the dog eats Paterson’s poems. When that happened I was like “Holy shit, actual conflict. Good. Roll with it.” But Jarmusch really didn’t, and I was annoyed. Ignoring one of the fundamental tenants of screenwriting is not some bold artistic move. It’s just kind of lazy.

I hate using this term, because it’s most often used by plebs who don’t understand what they’re talking about, but this film is really pretentious. I’m not casting aside Jarmusch entirely, but I don’t think this was the best introduction to his work. See it if you want, you may get something out of it, but I really didn’t.

4.5 out of 10

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