TIFF 2016: ‘Paterson’

Paterson is a study of ennui in its purest form.  Paterson is a love letter to the seemingly inconsequential town of Paterson, New Jersey.  Paterson is about Zen and the creation of art.  The fact that all of this is contained in a film about the quotidian activities of a man’s life across one week is nothing short of a miracle.

Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) takes on the role of Paterson, an amateur poet and New Jersey bus driver whose life is on a steady schedule: he wakes up at six, drives his bus, goes home, has dinner with his wife, walks his dog, has a drink at a bar, goes home, sleeps and repeats this cycle.  In most films, this humdrum existence would be the catalyst for a sudden change that leads to an adventure.  Director Jim Jarmusch sees nothing of interest in that concept, however.  He is more interested in the everyday as interrupted by more of the everyday.  Paterson’s schedule is interrupted by writing his poems (poems which have never been read by anyone but himself), dealing with his wife’s eccentricities and run-ins with co-workers, bar patrons, bus passengers, and – occasionally – other poets.

Jarmusch has always been interested in slice-of-life films, with works like Night on Earth showing that at any given moment, there are several human stories going on at once.  The biggest strength of Paterson is that this same fact is presented without the benefit of seeing any of the other stories.  Characters come and go, sometimes for as little as a moment, but they are treated like people: they have a purpose and a place to be, they are not merely there to motivate the “protagonist” of the film.  When a character leaves the frame, it is not an ending for them, but rather a new beginning.  Despite its necessary incompletion, Paterson may in fact be Jarmusch’s most realized film to date.


Paterson screens at TIFF on:

Monday, September 12 at 3:15 p.m. @ Ryerson Theatre
Wednesday, September 14 at 9:00 a.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Rating: PG
Language: English
Runtime: 118 minutes

For more information on the festival, visit the official TIFF webpage here.

Buy tickets here.

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