Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA/France/Germany, 2016. K5 International, Amazon Studios, Inkjet Productions, Le Pacte, Animal Kingdom. Screenplay by Jim Jarmusch. Cinematography by Frederick Elmes. Produced by Joshua Astrachan, Carter Logan. Music by Jim Jarmusch, Carter Logan, Squrl. Production Design by Mark Friedberg. Costume Design by Catherine George. Film Editing by Affonso Goncalves. Cannes Film Festival 2016. Gotham Awards 2016. Toronto International Film Festival 2016.
Adam Driver plays a New Jersey bus driver whose name matches his route, his days spent traveling the same roads again and again but his mind occupied with the poetry that he writes down in his notebook. At night he goes home to his delightful, artistic girlfriend (Golshifteh Farahani) and then takes his charismatic dog for a walk to the local bar where he catches up with the locals over a beer. Sweet and mellow, this look at the extraordinary artistic inspiration that can exist within the common man shows how creation can make a life of eternal, repeating cycles not only bearable but full of its own kind of sweetness. Jarmusch emphasizes a soft tone from its star and, in never pushing a moral lesson, creates a pace that wraps you in a comfortable, warm glow, sort of an oasis of peace amid the many cinematic options shrieking their demands for your attention and sympathy around it. Jarmusch’s expertise as a storyteller also allows him the eccentricity of a supporting character who loves covering everything in black and white pain stripes without it becoming a jarring or uncomfortable element; the pleasure of watching as Driver’s choice to express himself through his art makes him so comfortable with the many curious personalities around him is enough to make this film a must-see (and might make it a film with a message after all).