Paterson stars Adam Driver as a poet/bus driver (named Paterson) in the city of Paterson, New Jersey. This isn’t a new release – it first hit Cannes I think in 2016, but it was recently promoted on Amazon and I’m so glad I caught it.
Laura (Golshifteh Farahni) is Paterson’s devoted wife, a muse to herself. She is constantly painting, dreaming, and planning her next big creation. The dichotomy of her art surrounds their home, and even her special Farmer’s Market cupcakes. Everything is black and white, loud with contentment.
The presence of this duality is explored in an ordinary week as we watch Paterson take on the same daily routine. It’s Tuesday. Once again, Paterson walks to work. He drives the bus and writes more poetry. He straightens the mailbox, adores on his supportive wife, and walks the dog to the bar for exactly one beer. No different than Monday.
Throughout the film Paterson encounters identical twins nearly every day. Sometimes interacting with them, other times eavesdropping on philosophical conversations. Always raking in details for his poems. We literally watch as the poetry fills the screen and words superfluously fall off as time trickles past.
There is a brief and significant dive into the relevance of the epic Paterson poem by William Carlos Williams from a visiting stranger. Reminiscent of a struggling artist – where the struggle isn’t success. Rather, it’s the internal/eternal question, “Am I an artist/poet?” When asked by the kind stranger if he is a poet, Paterson answers, “No. I’m a bus driver.”
It’s this scene, set of course by Paterson Falls, that curates a genuine ‘A-ha’ moment for Paterson. It’s a beautiful experience to witness.
I watched this twice. Maybe I am being poetic. Or maybe I just like hearing this again: “They’re just words. Written on water.”