Underrated classics: ‘Paterson’ deserves more attention

The film stars Adam Driver, best known for his performance in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

Eric Smith
Connector Contributor

Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson” follows the life of Paterson, an aspiring poet. Paterson (played by Adam Driver) lives with his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) and his dog, Marvin. Paterson works as a bus driver in the town he lives in, ironically named Paterson, New Jersey. Every Monday through Friday as he drives the bus, he observes and listens to the conversations occurring between the passengers.

After work, he walks home to be with his wife, and after dinner he goes out to the bar where he visits his friend Doc. This is his daily routine and he does all of this while writing down his own poetic thoughts into his secret notebook.

The film is quiet, calm, touching and of course poetic. Paterson finds poetry in almost every encounter during his daily routine. However, his routine is not too mundane. Throughout the week of his life that this film shows, he meets many people that he has small connections with, including an aspiring rapper looking for the right words, a lonely man who cannot convince the love of his life to love him back, and a young girl who also has a secret notebook in which she creates poetry. These small human interactions remind us of the lives of others and how everyone is struggling with their own dreams.

Laura, Paterson’s wife, is an essential character to the story. She desires to have her dreams known around the world. She dreams of being a country star, a professional baker and a successful fashionista. Her sense of style and design is as unique as Paterson’s sense of poetry. It is an interesting comparison to see her desire to be famous and well known, while Paterson simply wants to be a poet for himself.

Driver’s performance as Paterson is just as the film is: quiet and poetic. He spends most of his week taking in the life around him rather than speaking. He observes those around them and somehow understands what they are all going through. Driver delivers this perfectly and gives us a clear understanding of his character.

Why is this film overlooked? After its release in November, it bombed at the box office making a gross of only $2,141,423 in the United States. It is one of the great films from 2016 that barely anybody went to see.
It received zero Oscar nominations and deserved at least a nomination for best original screenplay. While it would not have beaten “La La Land,” “Manchester by the Sea” or “Moonlight” as one of the best films of the year, it still deserved much more recognition than it received.

Final Grade: A-

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