Why Paterson is good for your soul

I am looking at the book on my table here – 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die with a still of Leonardo DiCaprio from Revenant on its cover and I’m thinking, when there’s a next edition, will Paterson be on the list? For as far as I am concerned, it might easily just grace the cover, as it is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen.

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With all the respect towards Moonlight, this year’s Oscar winner, I will never understand why a film like that would receive so much recognition from the Academy while a movie like Paterson would remain ignored. But such is the Academy. I guess we all just have to put up with its politics and values and be grateful that films like Moonlight can even make it that far. But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about today. I wanted to talk about the beautiful movie that Paterson is. A movie, that truly is one of a kind and which you should definitely put on your list and watch it as soon as you can if you haven’t yet. Because it’s not only beautiful, it’s good for your soul, too.

It is a little difficult for me to describe in detail what exactly I felt while watching this movie. When I’ve seen it for the first time, back in January when it was released here in the Czech Republic, I was absolutely blown away. I felt such a deep connection towards the storytelling of this film and I felt such a gratitude towards Jim Jarmusch for creating a film, that is like a meditation and a lesson in poetry all in one. But lesson in the best sense, not in any preachy way. A film, that inspired me so much, and got me from a very dark place, where my mind happened to be at that time. I remember leaving cinema with a smile on my face and a good feeling. And a hope – hope, that if somebody can make a film like this and in these times, than maybe the future may not be so dark.

If I should describe this film with one word only it would probably be tender. Does it sound a bit out-of-place for a Jarmusch film? Well, yeah… I agree. So try a different one – humane. Remember, how Viola Davis kept talking throughout this award season about how the stories that she’s interested in, are those of ordinary people? I don’t think you could find a better example of that. I think Jim Jarmusch might be the best director/writer out there for telling the ordinary people’s stories. But making them a tad extraordinary. That’s his magic.

There is something about this film that reminds me of Limits of Control, Jim’s 2009 movie with Isaach De Bankolé in the lead and another of my favorites. But where Limits of Control is a simple meditation, Paterson adds the poetry to it. And it’s all told in such a human, tender and loving way. And it has the dog. OMG.  I loved the dog. Best character of the film? Most likely!

Without any exaggeration this movie just makes you see the world with all its beauty. It makes you stop and acknowledge all there is. And feel grateful. And stop complaining. I love the contrast of Paterson’s life attitude and his boss’ who always just complains! Doesn’t it remind you of you sometimes? Or maybe somebody you know. I had a boss just like that once, who whenever asked how he is would start listing all the things that bothered him, ached him or made his life pure misery. I hated it. He even turned myself into a complainer for a bit! Hopefully, I managed to shake it off by now – more or less. But still, we all tend to complain, some more than others. Well, maybe it’s time to stop complaining, and start appreciating more.

I also loved how uncomplicated the relationship of Paterson and his girlfriend was and I absolutely  loved the way they treated each other. They supported each other – despite her being a bit eccentric to say the least. They never put each other down or call each other fools. Can’t we all just be like that? They just understand each other really well, as Paterson puts it. Yeah. I can honestly say that a relationship like that is what I strike for. Nothing more, nothing less. But the tenderness of their love that is being shown on the screen especially in the morning scenes, with all its little details, is a masterpiece in its own terms.

All that is of course possible only thanks to a wonderful cast, too. I really think that with Adam Driver Jarmusch hit the jackpot. He is great, every second of the film and can’t quite imagine anyone else in the role. But so is the rest of the cast.

And of course, being it a Jarmusch film, you will also get the usual portion of little stories from the supporting or ‘random’ characters without which it would just be much less interesting.

It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s heart warming, it’s inspiring. It’s so many things I could go on and on and still not say it all.

On a more personal level, this was just a second film in my life, where I felt like somebody is seeing the world through my eyes. That somebody actually sees the world the same way I do. The only films that previously accomplished that were The Legend of Bagger Vance and A River Runs Through It both directed by Robert Redford, which in their style are so similar to each other (and since directed by the same person) I pretty much consider them as one. Now, I know it might probably seem strange to compare Jarmusch to Redford, but it’s not really what I am trying to do here. I am merely comparing the effect these films had on me. They both have a very slow storytelling that allows you to perfectly relax and unwind but not get bored. They both are very poetic though in different ways. They are visually beautiful. They are super inspiring. Oh and – they are stories of ordinary people finding beauty in ordinary things.

However the biggest contribution of this film for me cannot quite be put into words. Let me just say, it made me understand myself more for which I will forever be grateful to Jim.

But how can actually a film, that describes seven days in one man’s life, while pretty much every day is the same, be so interesting to watch? I guess the answer is simply: Jim Jarmusch. Can anyone else do that? I doubt it. I can’t say, I was the biggest fan of Jarmusch before Paterson, though I was becoming more and more fond of him with every film I’ve seen. I just loved his storytelling style. But with this film, I can officially say, he’s a genius and I cannot wait for his next project.

Maybe we should all start looking at the world in a more poetic way (or maybe just in a Jarmuschian way?). After all, the world is poetry. And I am deeply convinced there is more beauty in it, than most people allow themselves to see. Paterson IS a film poem and as such is perfect – though jarmuschian meaning a little unconventional and ironic. It’s like the main character’s poems. For that, if for nothing else, it should definitely be on your 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list. It definitely is on mine – and very much on top of it.

Go watch it. And be grateful.

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2 thoughts on “Why Paterson is good for your soul

  1. Never been a Jarmusch fan, but I quite liked this one – there is just something so philosophical about it… And you’re right, it’s a great eye-opener, too. Sometimes we should just stop chasing so much whatever it is that we’re chasing ending up frustrated..

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