Paterson is set up like a poem of its own, its day-to-day structure providing a rhythm for a story without much of a well-defined plot or character arc. The film instead lives in the mundanity of everyday life, finding its story in the little moments and deviations from the normal rhythm. It’s not critical of mundanity like many films are; instead, it accepts that it’s a way of life for many, further highlighting the beauty and creativity that can be found in everyday moments. It’s a melancholy film driven by quiet hope.
Adam Driver gives a lead performance that is wonderful in how reserved it is, and emotion is written clearly on his face without a reliance on showiness. Golshifteh Farahani brings an air of joy to the film as Paterson’s wife Laura, and the relationship between the two is beautifully drawn. It’s refreshing to find a film that doesn’t feel the need to explain everything, that doesn’t lean on a crutch of backstory when it can devote itself to its characters’ everyday lives. Not that backstory is bad, of course. It just isn’t necessary for this film.
The lack of conflict in the story does make it more difficult to become invested in the film, and though I get that it’s the point, there are still some issues with repetitiveness. Nevertheless, Jarmusch brings it all together in the poignant final scenes, leaving us with a powerful conversation and a familiar–but slightly different–lasting image. And then life goes on.