Spring And All
For one reason or another, I was unable to see the Jim Jamusch directed and written film "Paterson" during its month-long run at an independent cinema; but I saw the film at last during the first weekend of Spring at a unique non-profit theater in northwest Washington, D.C. The film involves themes dear to my heart, poetry, everyday life, and William Carlos Williams.
The film tells the story of a week in the life of Paterson (Adam Driver) and his wife Laura (Golschifteh Farahani). Paterson is a young man who drives a bus in his namesake city and who writes poetry. Laura has many creative outlets and ambitions including baking, playing the guitar, and painting. Paterson drives the city bus through the Paterson streets, interacts with his passengers, and listens to their gossip. He writes poems before his route begins and during lunch. When he returns home, he has dinner, walks the dog, and has a beer in the local pub. He chats with the bartender and enters into the lives of the other bar regulars. Laura spends her days baking, dreaming of opening a little business, and in artistic projects around the couple's modest home.
Paterson's poetry reflects his love of Laura. The film is filled with his poems and with his creative process. Three other poets make short appearances in the film: an African-American rapper, a ten year old girl, and a Japanese poet who visits the city of Patterson. Paterson engages in much reflection on poetry and loves the poetry of William Carlos Williams, a physician and twentieth-century modernist poet who lived in Paterson. Like the character in the film, Williams wrote in a spontaneous style about his daily life and tried to avoid pretension. Late in his life, Williams wrote
a long poem "Paterson" which features the city of Paterson and also a main character named Paterson. There are obvious allusions in the movie.
The film features appealing working class characters with an emphasis on the multi-cultural character of an old industrial American city. The characters, particularly Paterson and Laura, combine the struggles of daily life with love and with efforts to create to find meaning in the every day. Paterson's bus driving during the day takes him through the downtown of the city and through varied city life. His rambles with the dog in the evening introduce him to other characters. The film suggest the presence of art in daily life for those who look.
I was glad to make the acquaintance of Paterson and Laura, to see a part of American city life, and to think again about William Carlos Williams. It was appropriate to see "Paterson" in a small, crowded local and urban theater and to reflect on creativity and love.