There are lots of reasons I am not a bus driver. I don’t even like driving my own self to work, first of all. No aptitude for it of course. And then there’s my habit of being monumentally distracted. Now, this is only sometimes a problem in my own driving – I occasionally sail by an offramp or I miss a turn. I’m paying attention for hazards but I daydream and revert to habits too often in navigation. This means I’ve often driven Matt back to my house instead of dropping him off at his.
Paterson (Adam Driver) is a conscientious bus driver. He doesn’t even loathe his passengers, which I find hard to believe. He’s not exactly immune to daydreaming; he writes poetry, thinks it up while driving, writes it down on his breaks in his secret notebook. My first impression was that he isn’t much of a poet – writing words in an uneven column does not a poet make. But he chews on them, refines them, until they start to sound like true beauty.
And he’s a sensitive soul too. He loves his wife, tenderly. He cares for others. He’s not even awkward around kids. And if he tackles a guy to the ground, he also helps him up. I’ve had a real problem with Adam Driver ever since I knew there was a guy named Adam Driver. He played a douchebag on Girls, and I vicariously hated him on Hannah’s behalf. Then I went to Chicago and saw his big ugly mug all over the Gap ads down Magnificent Mile. Ugh. My opinion did not approve through Inside Llewyn Davis, or While We’re Young, or This Is Where I Leave You, or The Force Awakens, or Midnight Special, or Silence. Safe to say I just don’t like the guy. OR DO I? Jim Jarmusch, you salty dog, you may have just melted my Eskimo ice cream heart.
[Sorry, I had to use it. I just learned that Eskimo ice cream, or Akutaq, is whipped fat with berries, the fat being anything from whitefish, or reindeer tallow, or moose, or walrus, or cariboo, plus sugar, milk, and Crisco.]
Paterson is a quiet movie, contemplative. It’s not for you if you need things to “happen.” But this movie works at face value and as metaphor. It’s zen. It’s one week in the life of a guy who wakes up without an alarm, kisses his wife’s bare shoulder, eats a bowl of cereal, goes to work, comes home, walks his dog, drinks a beer, goes to bed, repeat. But it’s finding the beauty in the little details in between that ignite this film. Jarmusch hums the poetry of the everyday. Adam Driver and his co-lead Golshifteh Farahani (as his wife, Laura) have terrific creative chemistry. Their relationship envelops each other’s quirky habits and their artistic foibles. There is much to admire here. I will even reframe my Adam Driver opinion if necessary. Paterson is cool beans.