“Paterson” is NYFF’s Hidden Gem


“Patterson” stars Adam Driver as a bus driver who “secretly” writes poetry. (MARYANNA ANTOLDI/ THE OBSERVER)


For the 54th consecutive year, the New York Film Festival (NYFF) will introduce cinephiles to the best films of the season from top directors and actors worldwide. One of its feature films, “Paterson,” earned a spot on the festival’s list because of its delightfully simple storyline and excellent depiction of the beauty of everyday life. While some may turn away because of its indie classification, the film definitely did not disappoint.

Directed by acclaimed visionary Jim Jarmusch, “Paterson” is the type of movie that you just have to see to truly grasp its beauty. It tells the story of a man named Paterson (played by Adam Driver) who works as a bus driver in his namesake hometown. He leads a simple life: he wakes up at 6:15 every morning, kisses his wife (played by Golshifteh Farahani) goodbye, walks to work, drives a bus and returns home for the night where he walks his dog and goes to a bar for a pint of beer. However, while many think that this would be an extremely mediocre plot for a film, it was anything but.

Paterson writes poetry. He keeps a notebook, a “secret notebook” as his wife Laura endearingly calls it, with him at all times where he writes about anything that comes to mind. He finds the beauty in simple objects—matchboxes, a shoebox, cigarettes—and transforms them into messages of love and admiration that touch you in ways you would not expect possible.

In fact, Paterson helps us see the joy in everyday life. As a bus driver, he is content to listen to people’s conversations and learn a bit about their lives. He sits at the same bar every night in near silence, where he witnesses failed romance and friendly conversation escalate as his week progresses. And, when he returns home, he listens to his wife’s excited chatter about discovering her new passion, which shifts from cupcake-making one day to learning guitar another. Paterson’s curiosity and friendly silence is charming. He brings out the best in the people around him by simply being present, while we have the privilege of seeing his true emotions through his poetry, which he hides from all prying eyes.

However, we adore Paterson’s character also because of his immense love for his wife. She is the muse to his poetry, the one he works to support and the light of his life. From the moment the movie begins to the moment it ends, we see Paterson’s love for Laura and how it shapes who he is. In his words, “She gets me.”

It takes a certain type of actor to make Paterson’s character shine, and Adam Driver definitely delivers. Driver, more popularly known for his breakout role as Kylo Ren in the “Star Wars” franchise, carries himself in an endearingly awkward way that perfects the role of Paterson. From his intense stare when writing his poetry to his lighter moments of bashful laughter, Driver breathes life into the character and in turn seems to insert some of himself into Paterson as well. For example, Jarmusch’s clever placement of Driver’s real military photo reinforces how close Paterson is to being the actor himself. This closeness in personality is what truly makes Driver’s performance shine and is why many leave the movie so satisfied.

In fact, another endearing aspect of the film are the different interactions Paterson encounters throughout his day-to-day life. He sees young love fall to pieces while at the bar, listens to a young girl as she reads him her poetry about the rain and discusses his favorite poet William Carlos Williams with a Japanese writer in front of the local waterfall. It is these interactions that not only break Paterson’s daily routine and progress the plot of the film, but also provide some of the more sentimental moments that make the movie so radiant.

Overall, Jarmusch’s film is one that encourages viewers to appreciate the simplicity of everyday life and to perhaps find the beauty in it. Paterson is a man content with his life, and his poetry reflects that. It is a movie that sees the beauty in the ordinary and one that truly shines in the New York Film Festival.