Life's like that

Life's like that
American filmmaker Jim Jarmusch is well known for his unhurried pace of films in which his characters develop. Paterson is a true blood Jim Jarmusch film in which Paterson, a city bus driver living with his beautiful painter wife gets up early in the morning, eats his breakfast, goes to work, writes his poems and return to his loving wife. He also listens to the conversations between his passengers while driving. Taking the dog out for a walk, chatting at the local bar over a drink and later cuddling up with his wife completes his routine.

One day, this routine is broken. The bus he is driving breaks down. He returns home late. At the bar there is an incident. His wife’s cake sale at the fair goes well and they go out for dinner and later to watch a film. When they return, the dog has eaten away his poetry notebook. On a Sunday morning, he goes out for a long walk, which allows him time to reminisce on his life.

Jarmusch noted that Paterson is a gentle story without conflicts in the correct sense. It follows seven days in the life of Patterson. It is an antidote to the noir and heavy films.

Despite the simplicity of structure, the film impacts the audience strongly through the wonderful lines of poems, the several characters that populate the film – be it the conversation of passengers in the bus or the discussions of clients at the bar. Shot well in picture post card style, the film glides smoothly, with its own subtle humour, making us fall in love with Patterson, Laura and Marvin their bulldog.

Another American who rolled out yet another quiet film is Jeff Nichols. His Loving is based on the 1958 true story of Richard and Milfred Loving who faced prison and exile from Virginia due to their inter-racial marriage.

Richard, a mason and Milfred a young coloured American fall in love and when Milfred becomes pregnant, Richard proposes marriage to her. They had a dream of constructing their own house in a small farm for which Richard has already bought the plot.

As inter-racial marriages were unlawful in Virginia, Richard goes for a civil marriage in Washington. When they return to Virginia, they are arrested, imprisoned and released on a suspended prison sentence of one year, with the condition that they should not return to Virginia for 25 years.

The couple settles down in Washington where Richard carries on his brick-laying job. Milfred wants to deliver her baby at her mother’s house. They return to Virginia. The baby is delivered and the couple gets arrested for violating parole conditions. The lawyer helps them to avert the fine and prison sentence on the condition that they leave Virginia forthwith.

Back in Washington, they raise three children. Milfred writes to senator Robert Kennedy for help and the civil liberties union comes to their help.

ACLU takes the case to the Supreme Court, which delivers a historical judgment: marriage is a fundamental right and no law can object to that on any condition of race, religion or colour.

As the filmmaker himself put it, “the film is UNHOLLYWOOD”. We could have rearranged the truth, especially the courtroom drama, or thrown in a party to celebrate the victory”.

The film is quiet and more meditative, especially in the portrayal of Richard who talks less and is focused on his work, whether with the cars or at the building site. Jeff Nichols said, “Our guide is the truth. We were not celebrating any struggle. We wanted to talk about these two people and their single issue instead of talking about the politics. It would have driven us to corners”. The filmmaker observed that the courtroom drama could be made into a film by itself.

The film is restrained delivering a big emotional effect, watching the development of these two characters over a period of 11 years or so.

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