Paterson ★★★★½

There's a moment in Paterson where Golshifteh Farahani's character, Laura, paints a black dress she is already wearing with white lines of different lengths in order to make it fit her aesthetic, and it made me cry, because I never thought I'd see her play this kind of character. The eccentric, quirky girlfriend is not an uncommon character within the indie film world, yet she is nearly always a white woman. Middle Eastern, specifically Iranian, representation in American cinema is minimal. When we do get this representation, it is often only of the worst of us, or just an amalgam of stereotypes. Terrorists (or their weak yet complicit wives), sleazy men involved in crime, sexual deviants, etc. I come from an Iranian-American family, so of course I know that these portrayals are inaccurate, but many people don't know that. Middle Eastern people are a minority in the United States, and many people only know about us through media. It breaks my heart to know that for so many people, when they hear "Iranian," all they think of are terrorists, hostages, and war.

To see Golshifteh Farahani play a woman who dreams of having a cupcake business and becoming a country singer, and loves to paint and create art and spend time with the man she loves made me so so happy. What really made me smile, though, was how her identity as an Iranian woman was still an explicit part of her character, in that she talks about Ancient Persia and occasionally listens to Persian music as she paints. I loved her character and I truly thank Jim Jarmusch for letting her exist in his vision.

Of course, there is so much more going on in this movie than just her character, but I'll let the real critics get more into that. Adam Driver gives what I found to be a very compelling performance, and if it were up to me, he'd take home the Oscar for it. Paterson is such a kind, sensitive man yet he doesn't always know how to show it. Adam Driver clearly has a lot in common with the character, particularly in his demeanor and military background.

The other characters in this film are just as compelling. The cast is refreshingly diverse, and their stories and experiences are as well. I loved the moments where two characters on the bus would just talk as Paterson listened in. Public transportation is really a place where all kinds of people coexist, and this film really captured that.

Some people may find this pretentious, and I had the same initial concern, but I do feel that this film and its poetry came from a genuine place. It's rare to see a film that acknowledges that the daily routines in life can be exhausting yet still ends on a positive note. When the credits came up, I sighed a sigh of wonder and the two people next to me let out the exact same sound. I'm very glad I saw this.

Rating: 90/100

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