The Wheels on the Bus 

I have heard of a soft launch before, but Paterson’s arrival for rent on iTunes was softer than a light breeze, that is invisible and almost impossible to detect.

I can not remember how I even noticed it – I may have looked for it, because while Netflix is becoming quite a good source of indie movies, I had not seen Paterson there either. The only other film of Jim Jarmusch’s that I have seen is Only Lovers left Alive, which I really enjoyed.

Although on the surface the two films are completely different, they share a scarcity of plot, a clear palette of colours and a love of detail and design in the images that they offer. While Lovers is story populated by vampires, though (although not a vampire movie at all) Paterson follows a week in the life of a bus driver (played by Adam Driver) who gives the title of the film its name.

So we have have Driver playing a driver called Paterson who lives in the town of Paterson and who writes poetry. It also features references to the poet Willam Carlos Williams, who wrote the poem Paterson. No wonder twins feature heavily in the movie, especially given that Williams’s Paterson (about the city) was a response to James Joyce’s Ulysses – a day in the life of Dublin. Who better than a bus driver to record the daily life of the city where he lives? The twins as well perhaps remind us that those who are awake enough to to the world which surrounds us, will see coincidence and confluence in its beauty where others only see the mundanities and frustrations of every day life.

This is a two hour film where very little ‘plot’ happens but we meet the characters who populate Paterson’s weekly routine. He gets up early every morning, easing himself away from his girlfriend who later will greet him on his return from work with her latest passion project – much of it expressing herself in black and white. His colleague down at the bus terminal shares his domestic concerns while Paterson takes the few minutes before his shift to scribble a few lines in his notepad. Every evening he walks the dog to the bar where an assortment of characters are involved in their personal dramas but it is from the tiny details of his landscape that Paterson draws inspiration.

I loved this film. I loved its calm centre and the detail of a flock of birds swirling around a metal bridge that was dramatically but silently hewn into the two opposing cliffs of rock. The kooky girlfriend was a little over kooky for me but did provide a little relief from the peace and quiet. I am guessing this film would not be for everyone – if you are looking for car chases or tension then you are not going to get it here. There is a quiet vein of humour running through it and a lot of beauty. If you have a couple of hours to spend where you will not mind slowing the rush of your weekend or evening down to appreciate a mediation on one person’s creative life, then like me you will enjoy it: recommended.


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