Di­rec­tor Jim Jar­musch on the ‘po­etic struc­ture’ of his lat­est film ‘Pater­son’


Like the lines of poetry it con­tains, di­rec­tor Jim Jar­musch’s film “Pater­son” un­folds steadily, qui­etly not­ing the de­tails of a rou­tine, sim­ple life.

The movie fol­lows seven days in the lives of its sub­jects and is de­void of any heavy, com­plex drama. And that’s how Jar­musch wanted it.

“This film I think of a lit­tle bit more as a film with a kind of po­etic struc­ture,’’ said Jar­musch. “The seven days of the week is a very sim­ple thing, it’s like stan­zas in a poem.’’

“Pater­son’’ stars Adam Driver — known for play­ing the vil­lain Kylo Ren in the lat­est “Star Wars’’ film and Adam on the TV se­ries “Girls’’ — as a bus driver named Pater­son liv­ing in the small city of Pater­son, N.J. Ira­nian ac­tress Gol­shifteh Fara­hani plays his bub­bly, artis­tic wife, Laura.

The film fol­lows Pater­son’s un­re­mark­able rou­tine through a reg­u­lar week, marked by his time at work, at home and at the neigh­bour­hood pub.

In his spare mo­ments, how­ever, Pater­son jots down poetry in a small note­book and re­sists his wife’s ef­forts to share his verse with the world.

Jar­musch, who wrote the script of “Pater­son’’ him­self, said he wanted the film’s pro­tag­o­nist to be a bus driver for a rea­son.

“I wanted the char­ac­ter to kind of have a work­ing class job and be an artist or a poet. And a bus driver, I love the idea of float­ing through the city and re­ceiv­ing the im­ages and bits of con­ver­sa­tion,’’ he said. “A bus driver seemed like a beau­ti­ful way to float him visu­ally through the city.’’

While his lead char­ac­ter en­joys writ­ing poetry — and even writes some good pieces based on the lit­tle de­tails of ev­ery­day life — he isn’t overly self-re­flec­tive.

“He’s good at it, he keeps do­ing it, it’s some­thing that’s im­por­tant to him, but it’s not the recog­ni­tion for it that’s im­por­tant to him,’’ the di­rec­tor said.

“I’ve tried to fol­low that all my life — that when we make films, those of us mak­ing it, we’re mak­ing it for our­selves.’’

Also like his main char­ac­ter, Jar­musch said he’s “very adamantly not an­a­lyt­i­cal,’’ be­cause his strength lies in his in­tu­ition.

“Think­ing through too much about why would I do that, or what does it mean, I just feel like that would di­min­ish my strength,’’ he said. “I know my gift is in­tu­itive and it’s not an­a­lyz­ing why or what.’’

In an­other sim­i­lar­ity with the pro­tag­o­nist in his film, Jar­musch too has a long-stand­ing love of poetry — he even hap­pened to have a small book of po­ems with him dur­ing chats with re­porters at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

“I love po­ets,’’ he said. “Since I was a teenager I re­al­ized that po­ets, they weren’t in it for the money, and they were re­ally re­bel­lious and in a way in­no­va­tive and they were brave and they were sen­si­tive and so they were kind of to me (like) rock stars.’’

“Pater­son’’ opens in Toronto and Van­cou­ver on Fri­day be­fore ex­pand­ing to Cal­gary, Ed­mon­ton and Ottawa on Feb. 17 and Mon­treal on March 3.

“I’ve tried to fol­low that all my life – that when we make films, those of us mak­ing it, we’re mak­ing it for our­selves.’’ Jim Jar­musch


In this May 16, 2016 file photo, di­rec­tor Jim Jar­musch poses for pho­tog­ra­phers dur­ing a photo call for the film “Pater­son” at the 69th in­ter­na­tional film fes­ti­val in Cannes, south­ern France.

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