From the early days, a film always serves as a purpose of escapism from reality. To achieve this purpose, filmmakers set up exaggerated events–circumstances that will change the protagonist’s life forever that is almost impossible for us ordinary people to experience. “Paterson” did the exact opposite, as Director-writer Jim Jarmusch celebrates the ordinary, mundane life of ordinary people through the eye of Paterson (Adam Driver), a bus driver in Paterson and an aspiring poet living with his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), who dreams to be a country singer and to open a cupcake shop.
The film structure is unorthodox, displaying Paterson waking up, writing poems before his shift, listening to passenger’s chit-chats, writing again if he had time, talking with his wife, walking his dog, visiting a bar…This is done routinely every single day and never does the film deviate from that direction. It is not everyone’s cup of tea as some would find it too monotonous and repetitious. But others who appreciate it will find it as a celebration of human life, where mundanity isn’t actually tedious at all; instead, a way to appreciate the small events that happened in our life.
To be precise, it’s not the events itself that makes the film interesting, but the little details that Jarmusch inserted in each scene. Not a lot of films showed the excitement of making small talk over a woman they saw, or the history of Paterson city that would never show up anymore later in the film. “Paterson” was never intended to be anything bombastic, even if there’s always the expectation. It’s just a reflection of our daily lives, elevated by Adam Driver’s performance where unspoken things contributed well to the film. Jim Jarmusch also needs to be credited for this as the silence from expression left the ambiguity of the character’s personality, mirroring our life.
In addition, “Paterson” commented on the life of an aspiring artist. This is reflected in Paterson and Laura’s lives, stuck in the ordinary and mundane but having the dream to become someone greater through their works of art. The art itself is the escape from their life, a way to lose in their own thoughts, yet never showcased to the world as a result of that reclusiveness of thought. There are also a lot of coincidences that happened in Paterson’s encounter. However, it never felt out of place as the audience already became one with Paterson’s mind of art, seeing it as a foreshadowing rather than a random event that only heightened the level of artwork Jim Jarmusch already presented.
Overall, “Paterson” had many instances of steering into a bizarre state of artwork, but never manages to do so because of how much heart and human the film has that could and should be relatable for everyone stuck in their midlife crisis. It’s a journey where, in the end, we just need to appreciate every tiny detail and second that we encounter into our life to make it colorful.