Paterson: The Poetry in Life

Paterson (2016) | Director: Jim Jarmusch | Writer: Jim Jarmusch | Cast: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani | USA | 118 min

Paterson tells the story of Paterson (played by the wonderful Adam Driver), a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey. The film spans one week in his life, beginning in Monday. Every day follows very much the same pattern: Paterson wakes up early and goes to work, where he drives his route while listening to passengers talking, and during pauses, writes poetry in a notebook that he carries with him. After work he comes home and has dinner with his wife, and once they finish dinner, he walks Marvin, her English bulldog whom he doesn’t like very much, and stops for a drink at Shades Bar, where he interacts with the owner, Doc, and other patrons.

However, there’s always a little something new that happens to Paterson in his every day routine. One day, he meets a girl who also writes poetry into a secret notebook. Paterson doesn’t tell her he is also a pet. One evening, he had to disarm a man who threatened to shoot himself in the bar because his ex-girlfriend won’t take him back. And one day, his bus breaks down and he has to call for help using a passenger’s phone because he, as we later find out, doesn’t own a cellphone.

Paterson’s keen observances about what happens around him largely become the bases for the poems he writes into his notebook. During the stretches of silence of Paterson’s every day life, usually as he is walking to work, during his drive when he’s not listening to his passengers’ conversations, or during his lunch breaks, we catch an excerpt of Paterson’s poetry, narrated by him over montages of scenes of his life.

Paterson’s wife, Laura, loves his poems and has long urged him to publish them or at least make copies. After long putting the task off, he finally promises to go to the copy shop on the weekend. But when Paterson and Laura come home from a movie Saturday night, they find that Marvin has shredded his notebook, destroying his poems.

The next day, a dejected Paterson goes for a walk and sits down at his favorite place in Paterson, New Jersey, the Great Falls of the Passaic River. There, a Japanese man takes a seat beside him and begins a conversation about poetry after Paterson notices that the man is reading the poem book Paterson by William Carlos Williams, Paterson’s favorite poet who also hails from Paterson. The man seems to know that Paterson himself is a poet even though he denies it and hands him a gift, an empty notebook. Once the man leaves, Paterson begins writing a poem in his new notebook.

Paterson is a small film about a regular person who leads a regular life, but not without its own triumphs and defeats that makes it all the more wonderful. It’s about Paterson, his life, his poetry, and the people he shares it with, in a city that he shares a name with. He tries his best in showing love and helping others and making the world slightly better, or at the very least, not worse than it was before.

Because every day we wake up not knowing what’s going to happen in life and then life happens, whether we like it or not. To brave whatever it is, to still be able to work and create and love and live despite the world is the best thing you can do. We try, and that’s all that matters.

Writer: Nadyra Ratri

Editor: Della Meydi

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