Taxi Driver Review

By: Gabrielle Napier

            Driving through the streets of New York is no easy task, especially when it is dark because that is when the creeps come out. Working as a taxi driver is an incredibly serious job in New York because drivers never know who or what is getting into their cabs. Columbia Pictures presents their newest film, Taxi Driver, to give us a look into the life of cab driver Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro, and all of the nasty and dirty people he meets while on the job. Director Martin Scorsese has created a masterpiece with a cast including Jody Fisher, Cybill Shepherd, along with De Niro. The film tells the story of Travis, an honorably discharged Marine, who begins a career as a taxi driver to solve his insomnia. Little does he know that his new job forces him to realize how messy the roads of New York have become. Taxi Driver does an excellent job of capturing the true essence of nightlife New York, and all of what 1976 has become.

Working twelve to fourteen hours a night, six to seven nights a week, Bickle makes a considerable amount of money considering how little he needs to fund his lifestyle. The very first passengers the film shows Bickle driving is young blonde woman with an older man who keeps yelling at their driver to move faster, blatantly implying they were rushing home to have sex. Bickle’s narrative describes how every night when he gets off of the clock he has to clean different bodily fluids from his backseats. Through different passengers, meetings with friends, and all of the strange scenes he witnesses, Bickle keeps quiet, silently judging those around him. At one point he sums up the crowd around him, saying “all the animals come out at night.” Cybill Shepherd’s character, Betsy, is originally the only person that is above the scum of New York until Bickle takes her to a dirty movie, ending their relationship before it even begins. After dropping off a passenger, a young girl named Iris, played by Jody Foster, jumps into Bickle’s cab but is quickly pulled out by a man who tosses the driver a twenty to forget what he saw before dragging the resistant girl away. Clearly troubled by the incident, Bickle continues to find the young girl around town. Scorsese’s creative portrayal of Bickle as a clean-hearted yet jaded and misguided man adds the perfect dimension to De Niro’s character.

As the story progresses, the audience sees the subconscious shift in thought process that Bickle has. Purchasing four guns and building contraptions to have as many on his body as possible, Bickle’s character is a clear result of the inspiration that the director had from George Wallace’s attempted assassin. Bickle’s journal and realization he was the one who had to save the city perfectly set up the presidential candidate’s rally that Bickle attends, fully armed. The audience sees Bickle’s interactions change as he becomes Iris’s protector, determined to remove her from the life of prostitution. The film uses excellent camera angles and lighting techniques to present situations differently than maybe what would be expected. Every driver has their own story, and Scorsese’s film gives audiences a first-rate look into the life of a New York taxi driver. The movie keeps audiences captivated, truly reflecting this era of movies.