This review was originally published on News Cult in December 2016.

Starring: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Nellie the English Bulldog

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Running Time: 118 Minutes

Rating: R for Language Apparently, But I Don’t Remember Anything Particularly Harsh

Release Date: December 28, 2016 (Limited)

In Paterson, the latest from director Jim Jarmusch (Dead Man, Ghost Dog, Broken Flowers), Adam Driver plays a bus driver named Paterson in Paterson, NJ who writes poetry in between his routes. Maybe that sounds way boring to you, or maybe it sounds very lovely. Either way, this film will most likely not change your mind. But I urge those who are skeptical to give it a chance. The multiplex culture of cinema dictates that high-intensity action must be going on at all times, which relegates films like Paterson to a ghetto in which they can only be appreciated by “arthouse” nerds. But any living human being can find value in taking the time to appreciate the rhythms of daily life as realized by Jarmusch and Driver.

In addition to driving his routes and writing his verses, Paterson spends his days at home with his supportive wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), who encourages him to publish his poems. (It helps a great deal that we can actually agree with Laura in regards to the high quality of her husband’s literary skills.) He also walks his bulldog Marvin to a local bar and gets a drink alongside some crazy characters. They are not sitcom-grade stereotypes, but real people, you know? But some sitcom-worthy shenanigans do go down, y’all.

Driver’s intense sensitivity (or is that sensitive intensity?) anchors the whole proceedings. As much as I believe in the power of reflective, low-stakes cinema in and of itself, it requires an especially magnetic actor to be particularly worthwhile. Driver is proving himself to be the type of performer who can make anything compelling. What he can accomplish just by listening is evident when he has a chance encounter with a Japanese tourist who also loves poetry. That scene is the apotheosis of Paterson’s entire purpose.

A final note: special recognition must be given to Nellie, the later canine actor who portrays Marvin in a gender-bending performance that was good enough to win the Palm Dog Award at the last Cannes Film Festival.

Paterson is Recommended If You Like: Free Verse

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Sensitive Man Poems