A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Paterson is a comedy-drama by indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch; it's slow and meditative and focused on the rhythms of life, but it's also funny and touching. It's a great movie, though probably a little out of the mainstream and not for every taste. It features some infrequent strong language, including uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "ass," and more. The main couple is intimate with one another with lots of kissing, on lips as well as back and shoulders. The woman appears to sleep naked, and her skin is visible under the sheets, but nothing sensitive is shown. The main character stops by a local bar every night and sips at a beer; other social drinking is shown. A secondary character brandishes a gun that turns out to be a toy. He points it at a woman, and at himself, and another man tackles him and takes it.
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What's the story?
A bus driver named PATERSON (Adam Driver) lives in Paterson, New Jersey, with his significant other, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), and writes poems like his hero, William Carlos Williams. During a week in their lives, Paterson returns home from work each day, walks their dog, Marvin, and stops at a bar for a beer. Laura decorates their home in black-and-white designs and circles, orders a guitar, and makes cupcakes for the Saturday farmer's market. Her cupcakes are a success, and they go out to dinner and a movie to celebrate. When they return home, something terrible has happened. On Sunday, Paterson goes for a walk and, after a meaningful encounter, finds a reason to keep going.
Is it any good?
Jim Jarmusch first made a splash on the indie movie scene in the '80s, and has enjoyed a long, noteworthy career, but with this beautiful, Zen-like work, he has made what could be his very best movie. Paterson is a masterpiece that takes great pleasure in the repeating rhythms of life, finding great beauty in circles, twins, and the cycle of things ruined and repaired. Its simple structure allows for many little, hidden meanings to be happily discovered and enjoyed (from William Carlos Williams to the Wu-Tang Clan to Moonrise Kingdom), but it's also a touchingly emotional work as well, focusing on the tiny intricacies of a long-term relationship.
The couple, Paterson and Laura, have many little conversations about their day-to-day lives, but the unspoken is also important. There's so much love in the way they simply read each other, and admire each other's actions, or worry about each other. It's a deeply compassionate movie, wherein Jarmusch paints the town with multicultural characters, each of whom is viewed respectfully, as human. (Paterson himself is one of the only white characters in the movie.) Finally, lest it sound too serious and too ponderous, the movie is also quite funny from time to time, with most of the humor springing from the stubborn, snorting English bulldog. Paterson is a movie you'll wish you could just carry around with you forever.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Paterson's depiction of sex. How is the intimate relationship between the couple shown? Is anything gratuitous shown? How do we know they love each other?
How is drinking portrayed? Is it glamorized? Does anyone drink to excess?
What happens in the movie's major scene of violence? What was the intended effect? What was the actual effect?
What do you think the major theme of the movie is? What does Paterson learn in the end?
How does the movie represent other cultures? Any stereotypes?
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