Movie Review – Paterson

Paterson is about a bus driver in Paterson New Jersey, named Paterson, who writes poetry. It takes place over the course of a week in his life. It’s written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and has a similar feel to his film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, although without any of that movie’s bursts of violence. There’s a slow deliberate nature, and a mirroring of tone with brief interludes of the main character reading, also that they both take place in cities in New Jersey among other things.

The movie opens with Paterson (Adam Driver) and his wife (Golshifteh Farahani) lying in bed at the start of the day as she tells him she had a dream where they had twins. As he walks to work he passes a pair of elderly men who are in fact twins. This is a movie about routine, and repetition.

The setting of Paterson New Jersey is notable because the poet William Carlos Williams lived there where worked as a Doctor. One of his major works is called Paterson and about Paterson New Jersey. He’s clearly an inspiration for much of the movie and is explicitly referenced; he’s the favorite poet of our main character.

We never get a sense that Paterson is writing his poems for anyone other than himself. He’s even reluctant to make a copy of his notebook, although reluctantly agrees to after his wife pressures him. He says he’s writing a poem for her, but we only ever see him read her poems written by someone else.

When the movie breaks to have Paterson read out his poems to us the audience, Adam Driver does so in a very deliberate way; kind of at pace he would be writing down the words. The movie carries that feeling into how it’s shot. Every shot is deliberate and specific, chosen with incredible care. One small moment after another, and eventually their combined weight threatens to crush us unless we find a release valve to make it all manageable again.

I found this movie very compelling all the way through and really enjoyed it.

Thank You For Your Time.


Hank has been a sponge for all kinds of media his whole life, but mostly kept his thoughts to himself until he started writing for Burning Barrel in 2014.

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