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PATERSON – Drive On Driver

paterson

Stars: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani
Director: Jim Jarmusch

If you’re looking for a real slice-of-life film, where minor plot-points and character arcs go nowhere like they do in real life, then Paterson is the little relatable character-driven film you ought to check out. There’s quite little in this minimalistic portrayal of a very traditional man living in the town of Patterson, New York, but the empty spaces in between offer up plenty of contemplation for the way life is lived – there are very few films that have attempted this in 2016, and even those don’t reach the heights that Paterson does.

Taking place systematically over seven days, starting from Monday, Paterson (Adam Driver) wakes up at the same time every work-day morning, has breakfast, writes poetry before working as a bus driver for the day, can’t help but eavesdrop on commuters, comes home to spend time with his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), then takes his dog out for a night-walk so he can attend a local pub. We see the similarities and the differences between each of the days: the different strangers Paterson encounters, the acquaintances he meets with at work and at the pub and the problems they are dealing with, and the constantly changing career decisions Laura keeps optimistically raving about.

Paterson is a film so quaint and filled with so many narrative red herrings, it’s likely not to appeal to everyone. It may appeal to the nostalgia-obsessed hipsters as Paterson (the film, character, and town) eschew a laid-back old-hat feeling. Paterson himself does not own a TV, computer, laptop, or smart-phone and lives the bohemian lifestyle of someone like him from a few decades earlier. He’s very similar to the VHS/vinyl-owning character he played in While We’re Young, but there’s more authenticity and less exhibitionism with his Paterson character, who although seems so earnest, doesn’t appear to be all that transparent and hides some other aspect of himself from everyone – look at his untruthful response to Laura when she asks him how he likes her home-made cheese and broccoli pie.

I left Paterson with mixed feelings of being uplifted and depressed, as the ambiguous intent of this film can differ from person to person, but it’s telling of how profound Paterson taps into some sort of unspoken nature of everyday living with all its multifaceted qualities. Paterson can be as dramatic as it is funny, sometimes by accident, as it renders this simple life, in all its beauty and monotony, to a cinematic form that is as engaging as you want to be.

Paterson plays at UWA Somerville from Mon 2-Sun 8 Jan, 8pm, and at ECU Joondalup Pines from Tues 10-Sun 15 Jan, 8pm. For more info head to perthfestival.com.au.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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