Ordinary life of ordinary people. A small town somewhere to the Upstate. Time flows like any river, it seems like nothing is gonna change, and there is really no serious matter or incident that blows up the stagnant moor of the neighborhood. So who could make a motion picture on this bare-bones plot? Jim Jarmush could. His independent and distinctive perception, his style of depicting everything from loftiness to day-to-dayness makes him derive his stories from the very evanescent details of the complicated mosaic called life.
This is a story of a bus driver (played by Adam Driver) named Paterson in the town of Paterson, whose hollow and almost banal life got featured with certain coincidences and outstanding, in comparison to the trivial surroundings, secret passion. Everything seems stable, but yet the guy extricates himself from the humdrum by poetry. His crude but meaningful lines fill the movie, flooding the plain of reality with philosophy and reason. Since the first line appears, it pins your attention to all dribs and drabs of this seemingly boring whistle-stop, your eyes pause upon every small thing, even though it is the same to the one in your own kitchen.
Poetry blows like the wind from the screen. It smells like any cup of coffee, fresh and spicy. It keeps you expectant while watching how the row of ordinary situations and normal nobodies transforms into an intricate patchwork of the earthling life edged with inspiration and something knocking the characters off their stride. You become a watcher, a witness, and this contemplative state of mind will not sign your release even in a few days after the film. This is Jarmush`s magic – make things look unusual, without using any special decorations and effects, or even additional characters (there are not many of them in the movie at all).
Complexity in simplicity, along with the deep symbolism lay in the very core of the film. It is trussed through Paterson`s weekday schedule, his regular beer-stops at the pub, his conversations with his artistic and lovely girlfriend, his walks with their dog, his thoughts and observations coming to his mind somehow by chance. Everything goes its way, but might be ruined only by one thing – unpredictability. When this unpredictable happens, the familiar path could make a sharp turn or otherwise anchor itself towards settling down.
Adam Driver is brilliant. He is the right one to single this unspoken personality out from others, to break this fragile silence, to portray undercover lyric among everyday prose. His character is a nice, kind-hearted guy, a bit slouchy, tight-lipped, got used to lazy circumstances, satisfied with such a slow base, but making things shine in the frame of his strange rhymes. His secret book is like a separate character in the movie – it holds his memories and untold truth, perceptions and thoughts that he is not willing to share. There is no contradiction – he is not reserved, he just makes strict distinction between common and private, work and leisure, weekdays and weekends. For him it is like day and night, in his own code time values the most, he can feel it and make it never go out the window.
The story that Jarmush relate in dusty colours of summer sun has crucial events next to nothing, judging from the dramatic scale of the modern film-making. But suddenly you may discover that any routine reality or a boring stranger could be a hidden treasure, like any interesting place in a small town never mentioned in tourist guides. Jarmush`s camera catches every magnetic piece of motion and every breath of mood. Go on, bus 23, we will be your passengers.