Movie Review: Paterson

The new movie Paterson is about mundane, average, everyday, normalcy, the stark urgency and reality of having to make a living with a bad job. This film is about the dread many of us feel about facing another Monday. This movie is also about the beauty of simplicity. The actor Adam Driver plays a man named Paterson, who lives in Paterson New Jersey and he drives a New Jersey Transit Bus through the streets of Paterson New Jersey five days a week. He is married to an Indian woman named Laura who loves to think about fantasies about a what a happier life could be and expresses her artistic ambitions by painting many of the walls and cabinets in their tiny house black, with black and white dots and making cupcakes with black and white icing with small black dots. She also tries to be a singer, buying a guitar that they could barely afford. They have an English Bulldog. They seem happy together despite their very meager existence and the amazing thing about this highly unusual film is it is not about special effects or a high-stress story or gunfire but is at the same time very engrossing and entertaining. This very good film is only about one thing, real life, and what most of us in this world have to do to survive the life reality that is ours. We see a very good man trying his best to make a living and dreaming of escaping his depressing life by writing poetry. His dreams of something better help him survive his depressing and mundane day by day existence.

One of the things that also impressed me about this very small and simple film is that it gave me a much greater respect for Paterson’s job as a bus driver. When I thought about the day after day mindless boredom of driving a huge bus with many passengers over the same depressing streets I wondered how anyone could hold onto a job like this for a long period of time. I also thought about how important this job is because a bus driver transports people who have to get to a job, to the food store, or to the doctor. If you make a single driving mistake while driving a bus because you’re overly tired, or just plain sick of your boring job then someone could be killed and you would be held responsible. But somehow Paterson is able to get by day after day, going to a bar for one beer after work and then driving home to talk about his day and his poetry with his wife, who is the only good thing in his life. Paterson witnesses the real lives of many of his friends and acquaintances at the bar he frequents with the same numb look that he has when he drives the bus and listens to his passengers or when he writes his poetry. Paterson’s inspiration for his poetry is a famous poet from Paterson William Carlos Williams and his book of poems entitled Paterson. Paterson’s writing is displayed on the screen and we watch him write his poetry in what he calls a “secret notebook” and in narration throughout this film.  The poetry he writes is as simplistic as the story of this film and the simplicity and real life story of this very different kind of movie are ultimately what I appreciated the most including some of the scenery, bridges and parks of the city of Paterson New Jersey that also included some scenes at a park named after the late comedy actor Lou Costello.

I highly recommend Paterson, it is a one of kind type of small movie that we may never see again.

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