Jim Jarmusch’s Patterson -- which is competing for the Palm d’Or at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival -- is an extraordinarily simple work that is paced evenly without the traditional cinematic highs and lows or what is referred to as dramatic curves.
The movie stretches over eight days observing a bus driver (played with incredible ease by Adam Driver) telling us about the tiny details of his life at home and outside. Driver Patterson pens poetry during his off time and leads a humdrum existence with his beautiful wife, Laura (essayed by the talented Golshifteh Farahani) who dreams of becoming a music star.
Patterson lives in the American city of Patterson, New Jersey, wakes up at 6.15 every morning and goes through his daily grind of driving his bus, overhearing the conversations of men and women who hop on to his vehicle, writes a few lines of poetry every time he gets a break and ends the day by visiting his favourite bar.
Jarmusch often makes use of genres like Western or the vampire film to examine troubling questions about existence. But Patterson is quite different where the director embarks on a straightforward narrative to study the similarities in the driver’s life, sometimes the differences.
The movie does bring out the undercurrents in Patterson’s life that we see through his muted reactions as he overhears the conversations of some of his passengers or when he writes about his marriage in his poems. Jarmusch gives a hint as to how his married life will shape out. Despite Patterson’s and Laura’s wonderfully easy relationship, it might run into problems later.
There is a third character in Patterson, the family dog, a cute little thing which one night chews up the book of poems. But Patterson is unruffled, for he is sure to write more as he drives his bus along the streets of his American city.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Cannes Film Festival.)