Taxi Driver Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Cybill Shepherd; Director: Martin Scorsese a jpoc movie review

A fine film about alienation.

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My Rating & viewing notes

Six out of ten.

I first saw this in a long forgotten cinema in England. What I remember though was the bizarre pairing of this film and "Confessions of a Driving Instructor" on the same bill. What possessed somebody to think that these films might appeal to the same audience is beyond me but it was funny to observe the reaction of the "Confessions" audience to "Taxi Driver" so perhaps that was the point.

My review

Travis Bickle (De Niro) is an ex-Marine with a problem, he cannot sleep. So, he gets a job driving a taxi in the New York night. He is a man without fear so he will go anywhere anytime and of course, this means that he always sees the worst of the city.

Travis is almost totally lacking in social skills and this leads to a disastrous date with Betsy (Shepherd) and an ever increasing sense of alienation from and disgust with the world around him.

A chance encounter with Iris (Foster) a child prostitute, increases Travis' sense that he must do something about the city. He wavers between taking action against the man in control of Betsy, politician Charles Palantine for whom Betsy is a campaign worker and the man in control of Iris, Sport (Keitel) her pimp.

A close brush with secret service men who spot him in a crowd makes his decision and Travis decides to free Iris in a bloody shootout.

It's not a bad plot but the movie is really about the alienation of one man from the city around him. In this, De Niro is totally convincing he is in the city but not of the city. He has a hard job too. A social misfit cannot be given a sharp snappy script. Instead, such a person will at times be an embarrassment to those around him and De Niro portrays this perfectly.

This definitely a "must see" film. It is well paced and keeps the audience's attention throughout. The settings and the atmosphere of the dark side of the city are convincing. My only reservation is the ending. I cannot see how Travis' action would have been viewed in the way that the film showed.