Paterson: the poem film

unknownWe recently saw two films in a row featuring Abbott and Costello.

Those were the names given the aliens in Arrival. And in Paterson we even get a little of “Who’s on first?” (a famous Abbott and Costello routine).

Adam Driver plays a bus driver, named Paterson, in Paterson, NJ. Yes, there’s a lot of twinning in the movie (including several sets of actual twins).images

The film is about poetry. The film is a poem.

Not a drama. It unfolds slowly and quietly. Indeed, the very absence of drama is a salient feature. It’s filled with events the viewer might expect but (spoiler alert) don’t happen:

• The marital blow-up

• The heavily foreshadowed dog-napping

unknown-1• The spurned lover’s bar-room blow-up (which does happen, but fizzles; the gun turns out to be a toy one).

• The cupcake disaster

• The bus crash. (Instead, a mere breakdown. Three people say to Paterson that the bus could have “blown up in a fireball.” But he knows otherwise.)

Paterson is a bus driver who’s a poet. Though very private about it, he takes poetry very seriously. Looming large is William Carlos Williams, another Patersonian, who wrote an epic poem titled Paterson. images-1Paterson reads that, and much other poetry, studies it. But not only poetry, apparently; I was amused to spot a copy of Infinite Jest on his bookshelf.

And he is a very good human being. The film takes pains to show that, while avoiding being saccharine. A rare and welcome departure from the glut of movies filled with human dysfunction and depravity.

My wife made me the brussels sprouts 'n' cheese pie featured in the film. I liked it better than Paterson did.

My wife made me the brussels sprouts ‘n’ cheese pie featured in the film. I liked it better than Paterson did.

One disaster, of sorts, does befall Paterson, near the end. But he takes it with his well established philosophical equanimity, and it sets up completion of the film/poem’s arc in a very positive and satisfying way. What my wife calls a “squeeze” at a poem’s end.

Her being a poet made Paterson a must-see for us (her insights helped me with this review). She is also much attuned to eerie connections in life. I’ve mentioned the film’s twinning theme. Afterwards, we have dinner in a nearby restaurant. A couple seated next to us finishes and leaves. Shortly, another couple enters and takes their table. images-2And the new guy is the previous one’s identical twin brother.

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One Response to “Paterson: the poem film”

  1. DAN FAREK Says:

    HI FRANK: LOVE BRUSSELS SPROUTS. ALSO ALL OTHER MEMBERS OF THE CABBAGE FAMILY
    DAN

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