A week in the life of Paterson, of Paterson, New Jersey, a bus driving poet whose favorite book is the poem about the city Paterson, NJ by Wlliam Carlos Wiliams. The film repeats the daily rituals of hiswork week: Cheerios for breakfast, packing a lunch pail and listening to the woes of his colleague Donny before he begins his shift driving the #23 Paterson bus for the local public transit company. The routines of everyday life are treated whimsically which Adam Driver bears with his trademark phlegmatic temperament. This daily life is seen through Jarmusch's characteristic style, "his wry and tamped-down tone, his loping rhythms, his puckishly frontal compositions, his worn-in sense of design, the winking terseness of his dialogue". Jarmusch is a master of the cinematic conversation, one of the most elementary tools of the filmaker.
Like Coffee and Cigarettes, 11 converations that become 11 short stories, it's the magic of conversation that creates both film and poetry. Between the routine moments, Paterson's is a keen observer of the city around him and the chatter of his passengers, converting these leaden moments of sameness into the lightness of poetry. He finds time to write them in his secret notebook, in whatever moment he can find between the daily duties. What I think Jarmusch is getting at is that loss of times to sit, think, let ones thoughts drift in the times in between our daily tasks. There is a hint of nostalgia as these times are largely now extinguished by the ubiquitous smart phone that fills our time with 'content'. There is no time to get bored and let one's mind drift, rather we are always brought back to the churn of content, tweets, posts, emails without any hint of poetry. Paterson's lack of phone is a leitmotif of the story and he is insistent on not needing one, even if he has to borrow a phone when is bus breaks down leaving his passengers stranded. And I must admit, the sight of him sitting in a park, notebook in hand rather than the shiny screen gave me a tinge of nostalgia. Thankfully, that's a nostalgia that is pretty easy to cure.