“All my life needed was a sense of someplace to go. I don’t believe that one should devote his life to morbid self-attention. I believe that someone should become a person like other people.”
In the words of screenwriter Paul Schrader, narrated by Robert de Niro’s Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film ‘Taxi Driver’.
A cinematic letter from a lonely guy whose life is going nowhere; a lost soul.
Travis is writing his diary, everything happens as narrated by him. We see his world through is eyes with POV sequences, we get an extreme close-up of his eyes early on.
Travis evolves throughout the story in the safe and contained environment of his New York cab, clients don’t interact, he doesn’t, the only attempts at normal human interactions don’t end well.
Stuck in his individuality in a big city (lots of crowd shots), no one is redeemable by his standards which includes a strange relation to black people (interactions often filmed in slow-motion). Only two people are important for him in this world, Betsy (the love interest) and Iris (the teenage prostitute played by a 12y old Jodie Foster).
He is either guided by his own impulses (get the girl, save the whore) or by what he believes is his destiny (get rid of the scum of the earth) depending on what happens in the story; it constantly shifts.
Scorsese keeps the camera on violence but keeps it away when emotion chimes in (apology call to Betsy).
Violence has a double standard here; when Travis could have easily become a villain in many regards (he gets overarmed, plan to let some dark thoughts loose), a surprising twist gets him some place else entirely.
The movie is a patchwork of impressions that Scorcese got from growing up in New York; no wonder why he picked that script.
Jodie Foster was already an experienced actor even though she was so young but she was evaluated by a psychiatrist to see if she was strong enough to play Iris’ part.
The famous “you talkin’ to me?” monologue was improvised and inspired by a Springsteen concert (Schrader later said: “It’s the best thing in the movie, and I didn’t write it.”).
De Niro’s monotone’s narration may induce sleep.
It’s not for everyone, the violence and themes earned the movie an R rating.
Cult and recommended… keeping the rating in mind.