Paterson – London Film Festival Review

Jim Jarmusch for over 30 years now has been making his low-key punky dramedies after coming out of the New York Punk and later No-Wave scenes. However like the Coen Brothers he comes from a midwestern background so he has an affinity for outsiders in small working class towns. His latest film is Paterson which like Dead Man has poetry at the forefront of the protagonist’s mind even if they are very different films.

Paterson is about a young man of the same name played by Adam Driver who shares his name with the town he lives in. He writes poems in-between his time as a bus driver and as he says to a young girl who also writes poetry “I kinda like them better when they don’t rhyme.”. He is married to Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) who is Iranian but her big desire is to become a country singer and she urges Paterson to publish his poetry which he constantly refuses to do so. They have a dog who he takes for walks after and then stops off for a beer, the dog won the Palm Dog Award at Cannes but sadly posthumously.

Adam Driver who in recently years has become a bankable name after starring in Girls and of course being the bad guy in Star Wars gives a career best performance. He is playing a hodgepodge of Jarmusch and also himself but it’s done in that laid back methodical way that Jarmusch’s characters are. Golshifteh Farahani is wonderful as his girlfriend, Golshiften has been banned from her home country so is forced to make films overseas now. Moonrise Kingdom‘s two leads Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman appear in a fun cameo as two local Anarchists.

Paterson might be Jarmusch’s best fiction film since at the very least Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai if not Dead Man because he scales it all back to the bare minimum of plot. It’s as if he read the Robert Rodriguez book Rebel Without a Crew and took the advice of using what you have around you. It’s a unique film which deals with a young working class artist who doesn’t care if gets “discovered” which is very much how Jarmusch’s life could have turned out if he never moved to the mean streets of ’70s new York City.

The film like all of Jarmusch’s best work it’s funny, touching and ultimately moving with effortless cool. It’s also beautifully filmed by Frederick Elmes who has been Jarmusch’s cinematographer after Robby Müller stopped working, Elmes started his career with David Lynch who has equally impressive hair like Jim. It’s a gem of a film which is a slight departure from Jarmusch because it lacks the hipper than hip soundtrack and more star-studded casts he tends to use but it makes it with its atmosphere, humour and humanity. It’s one of the highlights of the London film festival and one of the best films of the year.


Ian Schultz


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