Kia's Review of Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver is the film that called the most attention to the acting talent of Robert De Niro after Mean Streets and also to the directorial skills of the legendary Martin Scorsese. Often regarded as one of the directors best films, it takes place in New York City where a man named Travis Bickle (De Niro) takes a job as a taxi driver after receiving an honorable discharge from the marines after the Vietnam War. His shift goes all night and all week long, and he'll take any passengers anywhere in the city he so deeply despises. When he's not on the job, Travis frequents a porn theater and vies for the affection of a campaign manager named Betsy, successfully taking her out then blows it by going to a porno with her. This ends any strain for affection he had, instead purchasing guns to fulfill his fantasies of "really doing something" and as he says to a fellow taxi driver, "I've got some bad ideas in my head." Travis often records his thoughts in a journal which he finds more comforting then the TV he later destroys. After the venture with Betsy, he meets a twelve-year-old prostitute named Iris, who he wants to save from her pimp, Sport (Harvey Kietel), though she is rather reluctant toward leaving because she has a certain affection for Sport and doesn't seem to have many complains toward the business. When he decides what duties he feels he must fulfill, he dons a pale green army jacket with weapons hidden beneath, shaves his hair down to a mohawk, and adopts a daily workout (during which the "You talkin' to me?" line is delivered), almost creating a new persona for himself. The picture is pervaded by distorted and colorful light sources as they flash constantly in his vision and gives the viewer a clear sense of Travis' point of view. Mood-wise, it is brooding and meditative, observant and critical, carving out the basis of Travis' journey, but doesn't walk us through it the way most character-driven stories are. The ending, following the famous bloody shootout, is more confusing and open-ended then it may seem at a glance, and just how conclusive it is to the tale is left to the viewer. Paul Schrader, who wrote the script for the movie would later collaborate with Scorsese again on another character study, Bringing Out the Dead (1999), which contains many similar shots and color resemblances, as well as close-ups of the lead character's eyes as NYC sites pass them by. Taxi Driver is completely enthralling and is essential to film history and one's own experience in film study.