I rarely miss a Jim Jarmusch’s film. His poetical films have been a source of unadulterated pleasure throughout my adult life. Paterson, his latest, doesn’t come as a surprise. It is an unpretentious lyrical gem, where poetry is the protagonist, simple, naked poetry, encountered in everyday life. In the feature film, the wannabe poet is a bus driver, personified by the totemic Adam Driver, in reality the poems we see being handwritten on screen were written by the poet Ron Padgett. Only Jarmusch’s attentive eye could transform the dreary daily routine of a bus driver into poetry, his notebook as his only allied, a spiteful bulldog as his pet, a sweet but confused creative wife named Laura by his side. The name of the leading lady is not chosen by chance, Laura is the name of Petrarch’s muse in medieval Florence. Paterson is both the name of the protagonist and of the city he dwells, a city in New Jersey that has nurtured the talents of the protagonist’s main source of inspiration, William Carols William, a poet and physician practicing in Paterson, and leading beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who grew up in Paterson, also referenced in the film. The plot is simple, impossible to describe it without giving it away, therefore I won’t. The enjoyment is in the details.
4 December 2016: Paterson, dir. Jim Jarmusch Barbican cinema 1, London