Paterson finds the tiny fragments of poetry which trickle through routine and rest in the crevices of ordinary life, swimming in the details of a particular place or person, hiding in patterns, in serendipity, and the largeness which affects the smallness of an individual. The feature evokes a stirring, patient kind of understated, suggesting there to be beauty found in rearranging the prosaic humdrum of mediocrity into pretty words, a sweet verse. The words written by Paterson (Adam Driver) are done so without a definable purpose. Paterson relishes in the pleasure of deconstructing his day to day with clunky metaphors and strangely profound prose. Every day is miles driven in a local bus blocks around a small town, strokes of a pen forming an ongoing love sonnet, and the patient words exchanged between a pensive man and his idiosyncratic, somewhat facetious lover.
Paterson's poetry is far from exceptional, it is pure and unadulterated, tranquil, free from pretense or any forged grandeur but more often than not it lacks the elegance and sophistication of published work. This is verse quite plainly coming from an ostensibly content man who desires nothing more than what he already has, a fascinating concept given the dull, uneventful and routine nature of his existence. He rises early, but not before first cherishing a few moments in bed with the sleeping silhouette of his beautiful wife, eats alone, scribbles a few meditative lines at his driver seat before being interrupted to start work. Throughout his day, he finds time to set ink to his small book of poetry, he listens in to the snippets life he can steal from the conversations of his passengers and the fragments of community and drama he encounters at the dive bar he frequents.
Paterson is affected by a gentle, resonate charm, created of its simple, stoic characters, steady rhythm and quiet loneliness. Jim Jarmusch does not settle for a film stamped with one big statement for Paterson is a mediation of life's many quirks: the small variations of every day life that amount to an event, the simultaneous closeness and isolation of a relationship and the creative dreams and processes which give meaning to any existence. For most of the film, Paterson remains in deep thought. His infrequent utterances provide little insight into his mind regardless of who he engages in conversation with. The spareness of his dialogue has the audience clinging onto to every word he speaks, a striking antithesis to Driver's long-standing iconic Girls character, a cathartic, eloquent and eccentric man. The two could hardly exist in the same world.
In creating a visual creature to match his conceptual proclamations, Jarmusch enlists DoP Federick Elmes of Blue Velvet, Eraserhead and Synedoche, New York. Elmes is largely responsible for securing the film's strong industrial American setting (the old warehouses, factories) which ties in thematically with the traditional ideals of the American dream: the house, the job, a dog, a supportive and loving wife and possibly even extending to the unrestrained variety of both Paterson and his wife's artistic pursuits.
To fault Paterson, would be to criticise how heavily the film relies on the whimsical but therein lies the film's precise captivation, allowing the audience to revel in the simple fabric of life in all its delicate and serendipitous beauty.