Cannes 2016: Jim Jarmusch's 'Paterson' is Sublime, Poetic Perfection
by Alex Billington
May 15, 2016
I'm floating. I'm so in love with this film. I'm just going to say it - Paterson is a perfect film. There isn't a single thing I would change. Every scene, every moment, every line - it's perfection. Paterson is the latest film from Jim Jarmusch, a veteran filmmaker who has spent many years making all kinds of different films. This time he tells a very personal story of a poet, played by Adam Driver, who is actually a humble bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey. The name and location is significant because a couple of legendary poets also spent time in Paterson. The film reminded me of Inside Llewyn Davis (Cannes 2013), about the way great talent often stays hidden, yet if that film was near perfect - this one is its totally perfect counterpart.
Paterson is a very existential film, but (and I'm borrowing this line from a fellow critic): "like a great poem, Jim Jarmusch's Paterson makes the simple feel cosmic." It is beautifully simple in its setup and story, yet also so utterly engrossing and inspiring and invigorating and wonderful. I can't even begin to describe how it made me feel, other than to sum it by saying: "I'm floating". The script is brilliant and never once breaks stride. I drifted out of the Debussy Theater in Cannes in complete awe, with a smile across my face. You know the feeling, when you see a perfect film and there's nothing that can take you out of that moment. That's where this put me at. And it's such a relief to feel this, such a moment of joy to have experienced this.
A perfect film is the kind where, as I'm watching it, every next scene must be as amazing as the one before it. There can't be any slip ups, or moments that feel out of character, or any big twists that take anyway from what came before. Paterson is one of those films. Driver's significant other in the film is the illustrious and gorgeous Golshifteh Farahani, and even she is perfect. She is so artistic and it was inspiring to watch her scenes. Their relationship doesn't get in the way either, it enhances the story, it enhances the experience. They have a dog, and she's outstanding, and no she doesn't die or get hurt. I wouldn't want it any other way. The final moments bring it all together and make it even more substantial. Oh my goodness is it sublime.
This is one of those films that I feel like I would immediately go back in and watch again, and wouldn't be bored. Not only that, but I would find so much more in it. And I can't wait to see it again (and again) to keep discovering more - more about myself, more about what it means, more about Jim Jarmusch and what he is trying to say. There are scenes where he's just driving around, looking at the town and the places he drives by every day, listening to passengers talk about anything and everything. There are all these coincidences and special little quirks that if you catch them only add even more depth. The score is gorgeous, too. This film means more to me than I can explain. It's poetic perfection, superbly realized. Cinema at its very finest.
Alex's Cannes 2016 Rating: 10 out of 10
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