review by Bobby Blakey
In a world where most films come along require big budgets and over the top visuals it is nice to every so often get something way toned down into the real world. Paterson is one of those films that look to offer up a character study with nothing but its lead actor and the story around him to carry the film. I have loved Adam Driver in everything he has done to date so his involvement in this film was enough to get me to see it, but does the film as a whole do him and itself justice or will it miss its first stop?
Paterson follows a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey that shares the same name. Every day, Paterson adheres to a simple routine: he drives his daily route, he writes poetry into a notebook; he stops in a bar and drinks exactly one beer; he goes home to his wife, Laura. By contrast, Laura's world is ever changing. New dreams come to her almost daily. The film quietly observes the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details. The synopsis is seems mundane and it is on a lot of levels, but it really all hinges on Driver’s portrayal to work and he knocks it out of the park on every level. His performance is so subtle and perfect that you can’t help but love his character on every level. He is someone here that is happy and content with his life and the never changing routine that might make some scoff at the boredom of it all, but in fact this is what most people’s lives are really like.
This is not a story about growth or anything overly deep, but instead just life. As it plays out it becomes very predictable just like real life with a couple of detours of his day here and there that make for some interesting moments. It’s here that you see a different glimmer of interest in his eyes but never disappointment when he returns to his routine. His relationship offers the most frustrating and interesting parts of his character as his wife played by Golshifteh Farahani borders on crazy and selfish with her obsession with her art and music of sorts and never really seems to overly care about his passions other than the poetry. Her self-centered focuses make her someone that most will either dislike or just be frustrated with, but he is content with his love and life with her. Even when an inevitable horrible moment occurs that should have sent him into a fit of anger, he never fully wavers from his usual calm thus showcasing either true passion for her or the real life insanity that we all endure with life’s hurtles.
I cannot lie, this is a really slow film that will no doubt bore some to tears, but if you can see the realism here connected with real life than you can get so much more out of it. This film is hinged on the brilliance of Adam Driver’s performance and makes the entire film worth it. See it and decide for yourself but just know that this could easily be the most brilliant performance shoved into a dull film or an overall piece of brilliance disguised by the realism of life that we all want to escape with film, but are instead reminded that this is it.