Paterson’ celebrates the artistry of the mundane

Jim Jarmusch’s latest observes a week in the life of a New Jersey bus driver played by Adam Driver.
Mike D'Angelo

Four stars

Paterson Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley. Directed by Jim Jarmusch. Rated R. Opens Friday at Century Suncoast.

For Paterson (Adam Driver), a bus driver who lives and works in Paterson, New Jersey, every day is much the same. Jim Jarmusch’s latest structural gem observes a week in Paterson’s life, as he eavesdrops on his passengers over the course of his route; shares loving banter with his wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), an aspiring artist, musician and baker; and walks their bulldog to and from his favorite bar every night. The film is virtually plotless and deliberately repetitive, focused on tiny variations in Paterson’s routine—though there’s plenty of amusing detail, from Laura’s black-and-white craft projects to a lovelorn bar regular (The Good Place’s William Jackson Harper) who won’t stop pestering his ex (Chasten Harmon).

But Paterson—like his idol, William Carlos Williams, another Paterson, New Jersey, native—is also a poet, jotting free verse (actually written by Ron Padgett) into a notebook during lunch breaks and off hours. And Paterson, for all its apparent slightness, serves as a lovely portrait of the inspiration that artists take from daily life, insisting that creativity lies within all of us and that its raw materials lie all around us. It’s as sweetly optimistic a movie as anyone’s made in ages. Perfect timing.

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