Review 366 : Taxi Driver (1976)
Most film lovers have gaps and a few years back I started looking to see all of Martin Scorsese’s films. While I think I’ve purchased most of them, but I haven’t watched many still. Taxi Driver was probably the biggest glaring gap in my Scorsese collection that I hadn’t seen. I knew enough about it and all the praise it’s received. Sadly, I don’t think I was in the mood for the film that it was so I wasn’t pulled in as much as I should have been. Nevertheless, I give Taxi Driver the Must See rating.
Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is a mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran who begins working as a taxi driver at night since he can’t sleep. He will go anywhere and pick-up anyone and starts to perceive the large amounts of sleaze in New York City. His disgust grows and pushes him towards violent action with the noble goal of rescuing a teenage prostitute named Iris (Jodie Foster).
Robert De Niro is brilliant in this movie. He makes me uncomfortable and his character is so out of normalcy. Watching him descend deeper into madness is subtle but clear. By the end of the film, the choices he makes completely fall in line with the personality we’ve witnessed over the film. Jodie Foster also gives a great performance at only 14-years-old. I was surprised at the casting of an actual teenager in the role, but grateful that Scorsese was able to portray her profession without any actual visuals. Everything is implied and Bickle isn’t into her in a sexual way. He sees a kid trapped in a horrible world that he hopes to free her from.
Scorsese’s visual style is a favorite
The visual storytelling that Scorsese is able to utilize in his films is always topnotch. Whether it’s the close-ups, the dramatic lighting, the long takes of De Niro just being crazy, it all portrays the descent into madness. Scenes that modern films would cut because of the perceived “slowness” of the scene do some much for the character development. Watching Travis as he stares at the TV hold his giant gun (not a euphemism) until he allows his TV to crash to the ground snapping him out of his daze. It’s such an odd scene as he’s watching American Bandstand and looking completely out of it. Moments like this allow us to interpret the character and see how far gone he is.
I’m definitely going to come back to Taxi Driver for a few more viewing. I didn’t feel like I gave it my full attention, but writing this made me think back on the film a lot. Apparently, I got more than I initially realized, but I know I there are elements I missed. I’ve got a few Scorsese films left to watch, but I’m glad I finally can cross this one off my list.