Paterson might be one of the most simple and relaxing films I’ve ever seen, and for that reason among others it might indeed be one of the best. The film follows a week in the life of Paterson, portrayed masterfully by Adam Driver, a bus driver who spends his free time writing poems. There’s nothing overtly dramatic or spectacular about the story; Paterson is a window into the story of just one man and his life, which while ordinary, has a story to be told.
With the character of Paterson, Driver has created one of the most relatable characters of the year in what is undoubtably the best performance he’s ever given. Driver is so simply effective; this is a quiet movie about a quiet man, and the reserved, empathetic nature of Paterson and his routine is somehow a source of great screen charisma. It’s hard to think about anything except for the film’s beautifully simple story, but as the film progresses towards its conclusion you’re reminded of how much you care about this man.
I was genuinely taken aback by Paterson. It’s so brilliantly simple, and while there are some clever nuances in the character observations, there’s little under the surface, other than the simple routines and life of an ordinary man. There’s a beautiful, hypnotic quality to how simply watchable Paterson is; when Roger Ebert described movies as “machines that generate empathy”, I can’t think of a film that represents it better than this. Grade: A+