Thursday, 1 December 2016


Jim Jarmusch returns once more to reclaim the rights to hipster culture. Remember when it once was his? Its subsequent co-opting by Wes Anderson doesn't appear to have bothered him much - see the brief appearance here from Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. But its normalization and, thus, commercialization is implicitly something against which he is urged to react; Paterson is his laidback retort to those vacuous imitators and consumers, blemishing his legacy. In gentle tones, amid his characters' unusually ordinary milieu wherein Jarmusch's idiosyncrasies appear a little incongruous, this is a filmmaker making a definitive stamp upon an expanding cultural landscape, a stamp made with a soft touch, and somehow all the more persuasive for it. Persuasive, yes, but compelling? Alas, no. It's not only Paterson's pace that is pedestrian but its points - rhythm in repetition and then in variation, a pleasing yet predictable outlook on structure and pattern that rather saps the film of vitality. Its careful design is arguably too careful, too particular to permit any substantial deviation, Affonso Goncalves' editing too reverent to trim his director's work of its loose strands. Paterson is laudably authentic, that feature that regularly affirms the quality of Jim Jarmusch's most particular works, and thereby evades any decline into preciousness. Yet its lightness ironically turns out to be a burden, and eventually weighs down a film with monotony that was surely intended as a soothing stability of tone and constancy of incident. Jarmusch makes his point and makes it well, but makes it again and again in this fine but frustrating retreat, back to basics.