AFI Fest Review: Paterson – Jim Jarmusch’s Speed

Paterson is Jim Jarmusch’s Speed. It’s even got an action scene where the bus breaks down and a heroic Adam Driver has to evacuate all the passengers to safety on the sidewalk!

Driver plays a bus driver named Paterson in Paterson, New Jersey. He also writes poems which he narrates and which are displayed as text on screen. Really, this movie is everything you would expect from a Jim Jarmusch bus driving poet movie.

I knew Jarmusch wasn’t for me based on movies like Dead Man and Broken Flowers, but he got a free pass for Only Lovers Left Alive. Now Jim Jarmusch is back in the doghouse. That’s a metaphor. I don’t have a dog house. I have cats, but cats don’t have cat houses.

I should be glad. Paterson could have been a lot worse if he moped silently looking for inspiration. At least Paterson talks to people for random encounters and keeps writing, so there’s always a new poetry set piece that’s just as nonsensical as the last. I’m sorry, I don’t think it’s a tragedy that his love poem about the book of matches didn’t get published.

God bless Paterson for finding Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) who is so genuinely enamored with his writing about the font on the matchbook. I write about movies and television but no one’s impressed. Laura bakes cupcakes and Paterson climaxes with a huge set piece where she bakes a truckload of cupcakes for the Farmer’s Market. There’s also a long scene where Paterson eats the Brussels sprout and cheddar pie she cooked for him.

I mean, Laura is right saying Paterson should make copies of his work. That’s just smart, whether I like his work or not. Although honestly, should anything happen to his notebook those basic lines should be fairly easy to recall. I mean, I can still remember “We have plenty of matches in our house. We keep them on hand always.” Does that help, Paterson?

For a movie where every character announces what they are about to do, they still seem utterly blindsided when the inevitable happens.

There is an audience that will find great meaning in this, and man oh man, they’re gonna hit paydirt: Armchair poems, inane bus passenger banter painfully trying to sound casual, lots of repetition. Paterson may be the bus driving poet movie of the year. I’m not going to say it’s the best bus driving poet movie ever but it’s definitely top five.