(director/writer: Jim Jarmusch; cinematographer: Frederick Elmes; editor: Affonso Goncalves; music: Drew Kunin/Carter Logan/Jim Jarmusch; cast: Adam Driver (Paterson), Golshifteh Farahani (Laura), Barry Shabaka Henley (Doc), Chasten Harmon (Marie), William Jackson Harper (Everett), Masatoshi Nagase (Japanese Poet), Rizwan Manj (Donny), Method Man (Himself); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Joshua Astrachan/Carter Logan; Amazon Studios; 2016)
The magnificent film’s conceit is that ordinary folks are poets who might or might not know it.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An amazing quirky minimalist comedy about joy, love and poetry from the underrated talented writer and director Jim Jarmusch (“Permanent Vacation”/”Dead Man”). It portrays a caring bus driver, Paterson (Adam Driver), who is an amateur poet living a simple life with his loving Iranian girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani, a rock musician) in Paterson, New Jersey. His weekly routine is to rise early, walk to work and write poems in a secret notebook before hitting the road on his daily bus route. On his return home he walks the family English bulldog and stops off at a neighborhood bar to chat with the loquacious chess playing bartender (Barry Shabaka Henle) and have a beer. At home he intently follows his upbeat girlfriend’s latest interest, whether it’s selling cupcakes at a farmer’s market or learning to play a guitar bought online in order to be a country singer. What we are made aware of, is that whatever happens the gentle lovebird couple are comfortable knowing they are working-class artists. The low-key Paterson is a dependable bus driver in the city known as the hometown of the 20th century doctor-poet William Carlos Williams, one of the more influential poets of modern times. The magnificent film’s conceit is that ordinary folks are poets who might or might not know it. Following Paterson for a week means overhearing the various bus passenger conversations while he drives, listening to the personal frustrations of his nice guy bus supervisor (Rizwan Manj), taking in how unhappy with their lives are most of the patrons in his favorite bar, and digesting the meaning of his surprise meeting on a waterfront bench with a visiting Japanese poet (Masatoshi Nagase) whereby he experiences a zen-like Aha! moment.All the incidents might be small, but Jarmusch‘s well-conceived and well-acted lyrical film can at times be profound, epic and exquisitely existential. It’s a soulful film that wears its blue-collar well across its shoulders.

Golshifteh Farahani and Adam Driver in Paterson (2016)