Paterson (2016)
R / 1h 58m / Comedy, Drama, Romance

Poetry in translation is like taking a shower with a raincoat on.

Paterson brought much anticipation for me. The trailer provided interesting lines and concepts that really made me think this film would be about something or anything at all. Most unfortunately, it’s my Wednesday and I’m alone in my living room eating blueberry yogurt for breakfast and trying to not be angry at myself for actually finishing this film.

There are few films I have started and never finished. Cloud Atlas (2012), Star Trek Beyond (2016), and Rogue One (2016) are a few of them. I really kind of wish Paterson was on that list. It didn’t make me laugh. It didn’t make me cry. It didn’t make me swoon. It was very boring, bad drama.

We watch a man go through a week of his life as a bus driver, a secret poet, a boyfriend, and a resentful dog owner.

The people who liked this film say it’s all in the details – so I really tried to pay attention – and there were lots of details – none that brought this film together. I connected to Paterson (Driver) on two levels: poetry and serial eavesdropping. I, too, write poems and listen to everybody’s conversations on the bus. His relationship with Laura (Farahani) is cringey, seemingly one sided and strangely immature. She doesn’t work? She spends hundreds of his dollars on a guitar to achieve her country music star aspiration that he doesn’t seem to remember? Or, maybe she meant her cupcake bakery business? Who knows. All I know is that I really hate her and I hate black and white. Their conversations were painful to sit through. The only affection I could latch onto was in the morning when he was awake and she wasn’t talking.

Paterson writes poems inspired by his every day experiences. I can appreciate that. But mostly they weren’t good and there’s not any background for us to discern why. How long has he been writing? Is he a bad poet and trying to be better? Why does he want to write? Why does poetry drive him? Poetry is so intricate and personal but there is NOTHING here that tells us why we should care about his.

The scene with the little girl and her poem “Water Falls” was the best scene entirely. We see her excitement, her pride in her writing and her eagerness to share it with someone else. Her passion makes us care. I wish Paterson would have been about her. 

The twin imagery had potential. In fact, that may be the reason why I didn’t give up on this film. I kept hoping it would mean something – it never did. He wrote a poem about different dimensions – I kept hoping that would tie back in somehow – it didn’t. Everything that could have meant something never wound up meaning anything.

Anyway, need some poetry in your life? Don’t watch this film. Pick up a Bukowski book. Or read some of mine –

91915 (A Southern Funeral)
A Different Kind of War
Woman 13
Our Palms


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