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Paterson (2016) – A Thothful Movie Review

Reviews Thoth

Paterson (2016) – A Thothful Movie Review


Paterson… I thought…

(this movie could be about a writer, a poet, his struggles with writing; something that would inspire me as writer, with my own struggles, but…)

…What would be the best way to convince people that this incredibly slow-paced – deliberately mundane – almost unintentionally, deeply philosophical – movie, is a must must must-watch-before-you-die – kinda movie? Well, I’m thinking, I should say that it’s because the movie intentionally or unintentionally answers one of the most important questions of life. And how does it do that? – i.e. answer one of the most important questions of life and convince you that watching Paterson is meaningful, important, necessary? I’m thinking, it does so by simply asking you:

“Would you rather be a mule?”

(quoting the famous Bing Crosby song ‘Swinging on a Star’, which I first heard memorably performed in the Bruce Willis heist-movie – Hudson Hawk)

I’m thinking…

(this movie simply follows the life of a bus driver that writes poetry, taking you through every day in a week of his life. And that’s pretty much it… Except…)

What differentiates a person…? That goes about their daily… Day – waking up late or waking up early; eating the first meal; saying goodbye on the way out of the house, going about doing the same daily tasks, and saying hello on the way back in; doing more-or-less the same things that they do before going to sleep at – Night. What differentiates humans that work all day to sleep, wake and survive, from animals that work all day to sleep, wake and survive? I’m thinking, the answer is – observation.

But then again, don’t animals observe as well? In fact, one could say that – observation is what animals solely rely on to survive. So then if there is indeed a differentiation between the observations of an animal and a human, I’m thinking, the difference must lie in the kind of observation: an imaginative observation, a contemplative observation, a poetic observation. The kind of observation, absent which – I’m thinking – we might ask each other –

“Would you rather be a pig?”

(And that differentiation surmises why I’d describe this movie as a subtle poetic observation of the mundane life of a bus driver that’s also a subtle observant poet)

Paterson celebrates the poetry of everyday life; a genre of poems that points out the poetry in the simplest and most mundane things surrounding our daily lives. In fact, I’m thinking, I have always wondered why many poems don’t rhyme, not being able to articulate the reason that I sensed in this… And I’m thinking, this movie helped my understanding of the phenomenon to be exemplified as such:

Let’s say there are two kinds of poems, one that rhymes and one that doesn’t; and there are two kinds of movies, one that’s deliberately telling you a great story and one that’s merely hinting at a great story. In both cases: the deliberate story and the hinted-at story, is necessarily known to the author. The former – the deliberate story – is nobler because it takes the onus for all the audience to understand what it’s communicating. The latter – a mundanely meaningful story – is nobler still, since it risks all to the hope that a part of the audience will look past the mundanity, search deeper, and find the message that was placed therein for them with such care.

Similarly, I’m thinking, Patterson is for the kind of viewer that is willing to look for the poetry in a movie that doesn’t rhyme. It’s a movie that says so much without barely saying anything, and if you manage to stay awake through its slow-paced story, I’m thinking, it will evoke the most profound philosophical thoughts with the simplest of words.

(parallel to my observation of the two kinds of movies/poems, is the parallel of two kinds of actors: one that’s deliberate and emotes every note and every line, and another that’s most plain-faced – hinting at the deep emotional changes inside with subtle, frequently-infrequent changes in expression. And Adam Driver as Paterson brilliantly delivers an endearing and award winning performance as the latter)

I’m thinking, the movie also dallies with idea of duality…

…the duality of dreams: seemingly hinting there’s a kind of dreamer that doesn’t dwell on their dreams too much, doing one thing at a time. And there’s a kind that talks about their dreams all the time, attempting ten things at once: just like a poem that rhymes and a poem that doesn’t rhyme.

This duality is represented by the protagonist’s girlfriend (played by Golshifteh Farahani). She lives with him and is quite the dreamer, trying new artistic things everyday. Contrasting her, the protagonist called Paterson, lives in the city of Paterson, drives a bus labelled ‘Paterson’, and fills in a book of poetry by barely writing a few words of poetry everyday. I’m thinking, this duality also manifests in the movie’s deliberate thematic colouring. As deliberate blacks and whites take over the female-lead character’s portrayal, the protagonist’s character simply remains plain and blank. The former seeks to colour everything. The latter is content with being self-contained.

So in conclusion, i’m thinking…

… If you’re living an ordinary life, just doing your thing… If you’re drawing, colouring, creating something new, or maybe writing poetry. Or you’re probably writing complicated reviews on a website that you’re not sure – anyone will read (*nervous-laughter*)… And if you’re wondering – what’s the point of creating something that the world doesn’t know about or care about? Watch Paterson as soon as you can! And be sure to answer your doubts by asking yourself –

“Would you rather be a fish?”




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