“Paterson,” a film available on Amazon Prime, is one you may not have heard of. It is not a typical movie, and it is not a movie for everyone. It does not deliver action, high stakes or life-or-death situations. It does not even follow a traditional plot structure of rising action, climax and falling action.
“Paterson” follows the story of a bus driver, with the titular character played by Adam Driver (some might know him as Kylo Ren), as he goes through a typical week of driving his bus, living with his girlfriend and writing poetry. It is a unique look at the beauty of everyday life.
Adam Driver delivers a great performance as Paterson. He is an immediately likable main character who is quiet, thoughtful and content with the life he lives.
The cinematography in the film is also excellent. The movie takes place in New Jersey over a week in Paterson’s life, which means the same locations show up throughout the film without much change. The director does a great job of shooting these locations in unique ways, while also leaving small details in the environment that foreshadow future events.
Since “Paterson” is a movie about appreciating the beauty of everyday life, much of the film is that content. The main character spends his days doing typically mundane tasks, but his poems articulate the everyday beauty of a light rain, a box of matches and experiencing the seasons. Paterson lives a simple life and understands that the world does not revolve around him.
“Paterson” is a story that shows the intricacies of everyday life, and that everyone around us also lives equally intricate lives. It counteracts the idea that for a story to be interesting ,something amazing or special must happen, Paterson has a full life simply by enjoying what is around him and experiencing the pleasures in his daily life.
The characters around him struggle with this outlook on life. One believes his life is a romantic tragedy and he will never be happy until the woman of his dreams finally loves him back. Throughout the movie, other characters provide similar case studies on how perspectives can be skewed that lead people to live unhappy lives, because they are waiting for their life to be more like the extraordinary stories they read about or see on TV. Paterson is special because he appears to have more perspective and is able to simply enjoy his life as it is.
“Paterson” urges audiences to stop viewing their own experiences as what is most important, and discourages the very American idea that we are all the stars of our own movies. “Paterson” shows that people are often happiest when they simply embrace their circumstances and look for life’s beautiful moments, instead of constantly striving for the happy ending of their own personal movie.