Recently the New York Times posted a compilation of (in their opinion) the best movies currently available to take in on Amazon Prime. So I added some of them to my list, and last night I decided to watch Paterson. It looked low-key and quirky in the preview, and I was not disappointed.
This was the first time I’ve seen Adam Driver in a different part than Kylo Ren/Ben Solo in the Star Wars sequels, so I was curious about that. It was fun to see him play a subdued role and not a villain. His title character (who is never given a first name) works as a city bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey. Most of the film is his daily routine — waking up about 6:15 AM, walking to work, driving the bus, walking their bulldog, visiting the neighborhood bar — punctuated by conversations with his eccentric would-be artist/cupcake queen/country singer wife Laura.
He watches the waterfalls on the Passaic River, listens to conversations on the bus, and drinks half of one beer. But the unifying element throughout his day is his Secret Notebook, a journal in which he composes poetry.
I was intrigued by the way poets keep crossing Paterson’s path, and his writing helps him to make sense of life. At times, this movie felt surreal in tone for me, reminiscent of Napoleon Dynamite. I was alternately chuckling, and expecting the film to become even more surreal, and nodding in appreciation of its restraint.