|Rating: The Good – 93.7
Duration: 113 mins
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd
This brave examination of a borderline sociopath who becomes increasingly alienated from the world as he sees it from his taxi-cab provides a fascinating and cynical analysis of the thin line between society’s perception of good and evil. The movie opens with Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle, applying for a taxi driving job. Over the next few scenes, we learn just why he wanted the job and how in the long run, it only augments his personal descent. Bickle is not a socially adjusted individual, and he is increasingly incapable of understanding those around him. His initial flirtations with Sybil Shepherd’s prim character Betsy end in disaster when he brings her to a pornographic film because he saw other couples there. Only his encounter with a young child-prostitute played wonderfully by Jodie Foster appears to slow his descent into full madness but in the end it becomes the pretext for his biggest break.
De Niro is stunning in this movie and he makes Bickle his own like few if any actors have made any of their characters. This is not “acting” we’re witnessing but an intuitive realistion of a sociopath’s psyche. And this is the greatest achievement of all when it comes to the cinematic implications for this film, namely, that De Niro, director Martin Scorsese, and writer Paul Schrader were brave enough to lure the audience into Bickle’s mind and to encourage them to root for him. On the directing front, Scorsese’s work here is nothing short of seminal in that Taxi Driver counts as one of the most innovative and conceptually energised movies ever made. However, we should never forget Schrader’s raw and daring screenplay nor the great Bernard Hermann’s mesmerising (and final) score, both of which, were just as important in establishing this film’s place in history as its direction and central performance were.