Less conflict and more a justification of imbalanced perspectives, Paterson offers an experience of growth unparalleled in most modern cinema. Holistic in both presentation and organization, this latest from Jim Jarmusch makes a convincing argument for one’s ability to project thoughts into reality.
It owes much of its success to a clever positioning of four different perspectives.
A Complete Argument
Our minds perceive imbalance from four different points of view. From within, we sense I. From without, we see They. We recognize You and participate in We. Put together; these four perspectives encapsulate and shape our understanding of the world around us by positioning experience against reality.
Our minds also recognize four different kinds of imbalances. External or Internal. States or processes. External states include problems of physicality, status, reputation, and injustice. External processes cover fighting, learning, stealing, and deciphering. Internal states hold prejudice, nostalgia, anxiety, and anger while internal processes encompass living, maturing, inventing, and scheming.
A complete story matches perspective with an area of imbalance to present a thorough examination of the conflict at hand. Leave a perspective out and the narrative feels lopsided. Skip an area, and the story appears propagandistic.
Paterson balances all four perspectives with all four areas of conflict to present a meaningful understanding of the motivating forces in our lives.
To Project Into Existence
Paterson (Adam Driver) is a bus driver who ambles through life, repeating the same daily events with reflective contentment. Through his Main Character Throughline perspective, we experience the needle of his consciousness looping around and around in a circle, unable to move on to the next track. Stuck in a groove worn deep within his Mind, Paterson unwittingly sets himself up for a lifetime of resistance.
Influencing and challenging Paterson to grow and to remember the words that flow from his heart, the city of Paterson, New Jersey, fulfills the Influence Character Throughline perspective. This Universe of characters, born and bred within the city limits, upset Paterson’s peaceful existence with their accounts of breaking free. His girlfriend and her constant stream of new passions, the bartender and his domestic problems, the actor, and his relationship problems, and even famous citizens like Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and Lou Costello suggest a pattern of residents translating passion into action.
The Throughlines of Paterson
All of these personalities–including Paterson himself–find an imbalance in their internal drives to define themselves. Self-identity is the issue of Psychological exploration in Paterson as seen from the Objective Story Throughline. The actor's reliance on his beloved to define his life. The bartender‘s game of chess against himself (one he is losing). The girlfriend and her dream of being a country-western singer. The young anarchists and their admiration of those radicals that came before them. Together, they mire themselves in speculation as to what they could be, when it is clear that one projects one’s life and dreams into existence.
The Relationship Story Throughline–often seen as the heart of every complete narrative–plays out within the quiet reflection of artists beginning to understand their lot in life. Writing poetry and reflecting on the beauty of the river flowing through the city is a collective process–an appreciation of the Physical experiences of life, and an attempt to capture them in our art.
Paterson the movie skirts the dualistic approach of problem and solution in exchange for an experience of resistance and flow. While no less valid, the argument presented requires more thought and attention than the typical linear approach. The result is a greater knowledge of the forces that shape our lives, rather than a pinpoint target for us to focus our aim.
The Four Throughlines of