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Driver personifies poetry in motion in introspective film ‘Paterson’

Kam Williams
Driver personifies poetry in motion in introspective film ‘Paterson’
Adam Driver (right) and Golshifteh Farahani star in “Paterson.” (Photo: Photo: Bleecker Street Media)

Paterson (Adam Driver) is stuck in a rut. By day, the municipal bus driver repeatedly negotiates his way around a boring route around the New Jersey city which shares his name. After hours, he hangs out at a dingy, neighborhood bar where he dutifully limits himself to just one beer per visit. Then, he heads home to be with his loving wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), and loyal bulldog, Marvin.

At a glance

“Paterson”

The verdict: Very Good (3 stars)

Rated: R for profanity

Running time: 118 minutes

Studio: Amazon

Distributor: Bleecker Street Media

On the web

To see a trailer for “Paterson,” visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8pGJBgiiDU

Writing provides Paterson his only escape from the mind-numbing monotony. Whenever he finds a little free time, he enjoys scribbling poetry into a secret notebook he always carries around. Laura wants him to make a copy of the precious journal before it gets lost or accidentally destroyed.

By comparison, she’s relatively ambitious. Despite her foreign accent and a lack of musical knowledge, she dreams of becoming a Country Western singer. So, she’s planning to purchase a guitar and to take lessons they can’t really afford. She’s lucky that her jaded husband’s just too blase’ to complain.

Ostensibly resigned to his fate, unassuming blue-collar hero takes everything in stride, whether dealing with passengers, unwinding with his wife, or interacting with the colorful regulars at the local saloon. Thus unfolds Paterson, the latest offering from the legendary Jim Jarmusch (“Stranger Than Paradise”).

The introspective character portrait relies upon the sort of dialogue-driven script for which has become a Jarmusch trademark, an adventure more concerned with character development than with events of cinematic consequence. Irrepressible Adam Driver tones down his ordinarily over-the-top act considerably, here, to play the title role of an undistinguished Average Joe.

But the picture’s charm rests in its gifted director’s ability to elevate a humble Everyman into a curiosity worthy of an audience’s contemplation. A minimalist saga serving up an unsentimental slice of working-class life.