By Dan Clendenin

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Paterson (2016)

The independent film maker Jim Jarmusch continues his trademark slow-moving minimalism in this story about the simple and the sacred. The movie is set in Paterson, NJ. Its main protagonist is a bus driver named Paterson, who drives the “#23 Paterson” bus. On the one hand, this film is about the sacred ordinary. The story follows one week in the life of Paterson the bus driver. Each new day is a near carbon copy of the day before, right down to much of the dialogue and actions. He gets up, eats a bowl of Cheerios, walks to work in his blue bus uniform with his green lunch pail, then walks back home, straightens the wobbly mailbox in his weed-infested yard, eats dinner, and walks his dog Marvin to the local bar. His wife Laura sells home made cupcakes at the farmers market and splurged on a $200 guitar. They are unfailingly tender, polite, and kind to each other. I don’t think there’s one moment of special effects, sex, violence, drugs, or vulgarity in this film. On the other hand, you could say this film is also about the ordinary sacred, for at night, Paterson writes poetry. Throughout the film a voice over features his poems. We also learn that William Carlos Williams was a Paterson native, who similarly had a “regular” job (as a physician). Paterson never speaks to his riders, but he eavesdrops on their conversations as a careful listener and keen observer of their humanity that he encounters every day. Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t even own a cell phone. I watched this film on Amazon Streaming.

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