Paterson – first look

Jim Jarmusch’s latest steers poems of place and people through Adam Driver’s city bus driver. Our editor hops on board.

One of Sight & Sound’s best films of 2016.

Nick James
Updated:

Web exclusive

Paterson (2016)

Jim Jarmusch makes vibrant films
Out of quiet distinctions
A taste for perfect, ordinary things

Paterson’s a bus driver
Named, maybe
Because the actor’s Adam Driver
And the film’s set in the city of Paterson
A Jarmusch circular joke
If ever I saw one

That’s Paterson New Jersey
Rolling by the buses’ windows
A place of surviving grace, perhaps
Of small-scale normal working life
A driver eavesdropping on passenger jive
Picks up themes, vivid, direct

William Carlos Williams
New Jersey born and bred
Named a book of poems Paterson
So the poems amateur Paterson writes
Before and after he drives his bus
Are like Williams in Paterson
But leaner, closer to haiku
And like Williams, he likes to look at
The Great Passaic falls of Paterson
A place where sometimes notions strike

Paterson (2016)

Paterson has an Iranian wife
(Played by Golshifteh Farahani)
A fiend for black and white fixtures and fittings
Curlicue cupcakes, a harlequin guitar
Her English bulldog Marvin growls
Every time the couple kiss
A dog for local dawgs to covet

Adam Driver reads the poems
Hitting down on the plosives
His Paterson, modest, soulful, calm
Reminds me of Matti Pellonpää
In Aki’s Shadows of Paradise
Though more handsome, for now

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