PATER­SON, drama, rated R, Vi­o­let Crown,

Pasatiempo - - JENNIFER GOES - — Jim Jar­musch Pater­son Si­lence. Pater­son: Pater­son Pater­son,

“I still think po­ets are like, for me, like rock stars. They’re kind of mag­i­cal peo­ple. They should just be given what­ever they want.”

In his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Wil­liam Car­los Wil­liams re­flected on his epic five-vol­ume poem “That is why I started to write : A man is in­deed a city, and for the poet there are no ideas but in things.”

In Jim Jar­musch’s movie of the same name, the city and the man share that name: Pater­son. The movie is it­self a kind of cin­e­matic po­etry, dreamy and con­tem­pla­tive, a paean to love and ob­ser­va­tion. And to po­etry, Wil­liams, and Pater­son, New Jersey.

Pater­son, the ti­tle char­ac­ter, is played by Adam Driver, a tall, gawky, bas­set-faced ac­tor who is con­cur­rently in Martin Scors­ese’s He drives a bus in the city, and his days fol­low a vir­tu­ally un­chang­ing pat­tern. The movie cov­ers a week in his life, with each morn­ing an­nounced by the day of the week as a chap­ter head­ing. Pater­son wakes be­tween 6 and 6:30 in the morn­ing, snug­gled in bed with his wife Laura (the lovely Ira­nian ac­tress Gol­shifteh Fara­hani). He checks his watch, gets up, eats a cup of ce­real, walks to work, drives his bus, eaves­drops on snatches of con­ver­sa­tion, ob­serves his sur­round­ings. He comes home, kisses his wife, has his sup­per, walks the dog, stops in at a neigh­bor­hood tav­ern for a beer, re­turns home, goes to bed. Through it all he is com­pos­ing po­etry, in his head and in a note­book he car­ries with him, his “se­cret note­book.”

The un­event­ful­ness of his life is the blank page upon which Pater­son writes his po­ems. But if his life is plain, it’s not bor­ing — not to him. He is deeply in love with Laura, and she with him — no ten­sion there, but a pro­found reser­voir of emo­tion. Laura is as an­i­mated and full of en­thu­si­asms as Pater­son is quiet. She is ob­sessed with black and white — she paints their house and their cur­tains and their cup­boards and even her cloth­ing in black and white, she bakes black-and-white cup­cakes for sale at the farm­ers mar­ket, and when she comes upon an ad for a black-and-white “Har­lequin” gui­tar, she or­ders it and de­cides to be­come a coun­try star. The black-and­white color scheme of life in the Pater­son house­hold con­tains a rich spec­trum of hap­pi­ness be­neath the sur­face. The same can be said of po­etry, which we gen­er­ally en­counter in black and white, ink on a page cre­at­ing words that open doors onto all man­ner of ex­pe­ri­ence.

One of Pater­son’s po­ems is his ru­mi­na­tion on a box of matches. Jar­musch has fun with a re­cur­ring theme of vis­ual-ver­bal play, as he scat­ters match­ing sets of iden­ti­cal twins through the movie. This kind of game prob­a­bly ex­tends to the de­ci­sion to cast Driver as a driver.

It’s not true that noth­ing hap­pens in this movie. There are bits of low-key drama here and there, and even a flicker of sus­pense­ful ten­sion in­volv­ing a lovelorn fel­low pa­tron of the bar (Wil­liam Jack­son Harper), whose pres­ence serves to re­mind us (with apolo­gies to the Fab­u­lous Furry Freak Broth­ers) that love will get you through times of no po­etry bet­ter than po­etry will get you through times of no love. There are en­coun­ters with kin­dred spir­its, fel­low wor­ship­pers at the al­tar of po­etry, in­clud­ing a teenage girl who is work­ing on a poem while waiting in an al­ley for her mother and twin sis­ter.

Pater­son doesn’t carry a cell phone, and doesn’t have a TV at home. Nor is there a tele­vi­sion at the bar he fre­quents, where the owner (Barry Shabaka Hen­ley) prefers an at­mos­phere con­ducive to talk and chess, and has cre­ated a wall of fame be­hind the bar pay­ing ho­mage to the town’s fa­mous na­tive sons. There are pho­tos of ballplay­ers, writ­ers, and ac­tors, there are news­pa­per clip­pings and plaques hon­or­ing great achiev­ers like po­lio pi­o­neer Al­bert Sabin, along with the im­mor­tal Lou Costello, Pater­son’s most fa­mous alum­nus, a man hon­ored by the city with both a statue and a park.

But for Jar­musch, the true spirit of great­ness that rules the heart of Pater­son, both the city and the man, is Wil­liam Car­los Wil­liams, the doc­tor-poet who in fact lived not in Pater­son but in nearby Ruther­ford, but who chose Pater­son as the set­ting and in­spi­ra­tion for his mas­ter­piece.

One of the most poignant scenes comes at the end, down by Pater­son’s beau­ti­ful Great Falls, in a chance en­counter with a Ja­panese pil­grim (Masatoshi Na­gase) who has come with a vol­ume of Wil­liams’

to see the city and breathe the air that shaped the great poet’s mas­ter­work. It comes at a low point for our poet/bus driver, and it lifts him up and re­news him. The Ja­panese poet ob­serves that po­etry doesn’t trans­late well, but his pres­ence there, with his bilin­gual vol­ume of gives the lie to that no­tion. — Jonathan Richards

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