By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, US)


Paterson: A Simplistic Glance at Life

Simplistic, insightful, beautiful, and imaginative are words that perfectly describe Paterson. A story that is grounded thoroughly in realism with how it not only portrays the simplicity of everyday life but also conceptualizing the originality of personality. Paterson focuses on how character traits themselves can be original, not only from a narrative perspective but also a character development perspective.

The innovation of a simple man whose occupation consists of driving a city bus. A simple man who is complex not only in resilience to the compound hardships of life but also in his expression of creativity as a character who loves to write poetry. A man whose dull and easily comprehensible life that involves him living his daily routine of waking up, kissing his wife, going to work, writing poetry, coming home to talk to his wife, going to the bar for a drink, and then returns home to go to bed with his wife. It’s a film that is completely original based upon its straightforward and uncomplicated narrative that artistically depicts the normality of everyday life.

Paterson is a perfect example of direction correlating with tone. The direction is simplistic and old-fashioned to maintain tonal focus on the film. Jim Jarmusch focuses on simple shot design with everyone perfectly centered on the screen, and by always following the 180-degree rule throughout the entire run time of the film. Also using close-ups, medium shots, and point of view shots to create this relatability to the tone as well as the viewer. The focus generated by the cinematography is incredibly constructive upon the direction of its simplicity. The color design is natural and set entirely in realism to reflect the scope and tone of the screenplay. However, what helps create this sense of naturalism and realism is the script.

The script not only provokes the audience with cliché set ups that exploited on my understanding of filmography. Setting up scenes that made me feel as if we were beginning to head into a genre film, but instead, it transfers the script into realism. With examples of dialogue turning into agreements instead of arguments, violence turning into nonviolent, tension transitioning to solutions, or conflicts turning into peaceful resolutions. This script was intentionally designed to portray the old message of turning the other cheek. Focusing on optimism instead of pessimism, and continually evoking this warming sensation of familiarity. With this vast amount of focus on simplicity and a non-conflicting plot, how does this script continue to enhance and entrance its viewers? The simple answer is the irony of originality becoming exemplified through simplicity.

The uncomplex idea of following an ordinary man on his day to day routine in the city of Paterson, New Jersey. Not only making the narrative relatable, but also unique based upon its lack of fictional plot developments. With the only negative criticism surrounding this film being utterly focused on its “boring” narrative, the film continues to reinforce its message. The reinforcement of the message being that simplicity can be a virtue, and should not be relegated instead it should be praised. Praised and welcomed because normality is a characteristic that is not only relatable for everyone but also desired for many whose life revolves around both good and bad differential lifestyles.

Paterson is an original film with a script settled in realism and intellectual comprehensiveness. It not only displays cohesiveness technically with its correlation of tone and technical filmmaking. Paterson drives home a sociological message that the everyday lifestyle is something that should be valued instead of continually condemning it for its lack of fictional characteristics. Life is not always like the movies, but instead, it’s something the movies will never create, and that’s the relishing uniqueness of being a comprehensible person in a world filled with complexity.

Rating: 4/5



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