I should say from the get-go that “Paterson” is a movie for poets. That’s not to say that non-poets or anyone not interested in poetry won’t get something from it, but I did witness four people leaving the theater as it would seem they were drawn by Adam Driver’s name alone, and hoping the film would be passable in their eyes.
For me in terms of movies that were made surrounding poetry, “Paterson” is definitely one of my very favourites. I am cautious to say it is my favourite because different movies have approached the art form from many different angles. Jim Jaramusch took our little celebrated art form and looked at it from an extremely introspective point of view. The main reason why I was so drawn to it was because Adam Driver’s character reminded me of me, and it’s more than likely that other poets will find other identifiable aspects of themselves throughout the course of the film also
The movie surrounds the character of Paterson played by Adam Driver, who by ereme coincidence works as a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey the manner in which he writes his poems is a simple and rustic was. He sees or overhears something that inspires a poem, and throughout the course of his day on public transit overhearing the chatter of random passengers, he formulates the poems in his head. Jaramusch uses a very simple technique of course used by other directors, but the audience is given the luxury of being there in Paterson’s head when the poem is first being birthed, and thus, the words scrawl on the screen in conjunction with the cinematography.
What’s truly wonderful about the film, and where I related the most, is the relationship between a poet’s seemingly mundane day-to-day repetition, and ritual, and how it advances the evolution of their poem. There are so many repeated instances in the film, as we follow consecutive work days that the audience has no choice but to follow along, every day has several similarities (a la Groundhog Day) but the slightest of differences, one of which being the modification of a poem that started the day before in Paterson’s head, and how it has since changed. An editing technique, I’m sure we’ve all come across in our own ways.
One aspect of the film where it fell short for me, and I guess I’m waiting to see if a film will ever touch upon it, is the instance of going to an open mic, or a community revolving around it. I always picture a film like “Inside Llewyn Davis” revolving around a poetry community, and stories interconnected from it. Maybe one of us can take a crack at it. Still when it comes to the trials, tribulations, and happenstances of a poet, “Paterson” for its runtime does feel like home.