Taxi Driver

February 2, 2010
By TheGothicGunslinger ELITE, Lakeland, Florida
TheGothicGunslinger ELITE, Lakeland, Florida
177 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"To be great is to be misunderstood" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Taxi Driver is hailed by critics and film-goers alike as one of Martin Scorsese's greatest films, if not his greatest film. While I politely disagree, I will admit that the film definitely is an experience and has that admirable style that Scorsese films are known for. It's a character study, if I've ever seen one, but also a sort of commentary on the sociopolitical issues present in the 1970's.

In the film, we follow a deranged, yet lonely, cabbie named Travis Bickle who lives in the streets of New York City. Because of his job, Travis gets to see all of New York - including the not-so pleasing underbelly. Added to his already troubled psyche, Travis begins to become a sort of 'Knight Templar' for NYC, planning and pondering how he can wipe out "the scum" of the city. In many ways, Travis can be described as being just as pathetic as he is deranged. He wishes to save women who don't wish to be saved, he wonders how he can defeat evil - like some sort of super-hero - how he can lead a happy life, etc. Anyone who's ever been lonely can understand Travis' position, save the homicidal urges mayhaps.

Robert De Niro gives, arguably, the best performance of his entire career. Usually associated with films concerning the mafia, De Niro plays Travis to a 'T' and his character and performance are what propel the film forward. A young Jodie Foster, playing a young prostitute named Iris, also gives a great performance, her role only further enhancing the haunted nature of Travis' character. There's no argument against character or dialogue here, as the film is completely character-driven and these characters are all quite interesting and slick, thanks to Scorsese's directing.

The visuals are stylized quite well, though I wouldn't call the film ground-breaking in the department. The city is portrayed in a fair, albeit cynical, way that emphasizes the viewpoint of De Niro's character. By day, the city has a sleek look to it - fairly modern and clean. By night, however, the city feels and looks trashy, with the streets littered by "the trash that come out at night", in Travis' humble words.

The problems I have with this film, however, have more to do with the structure and pacing. The characters, dialogue, and visuals are all elements of the film I highly enjoyed. The structure, however, keeps this narrative bogged down. It's hard to exactly describe this feeling in words, because the film is far from being predictable. It's just that the film can sometimes linger for too long, which I've never experienced in a film before. I love lingering moments, as it makes a film feel more thoughtful and magical, but Taxi Driver took it too far at points. Such as the scene where the irate husband tells Travis of his murderous plans, or the sequence with Sport and Iris dancing. This scenes just last for far too long, and have nothing to add to the film or the tragic and disturbing tale of Travis Bickle.

Next, the film's pacing gets a bit too slow during the second half of the film. It doesn't drag, per se, but you can certainly feel time moving by during this portion. This is quite sad, as the first half literally had a near-perfect pacing. Nothing lasted too long or ended abruptly, it all just flowed into this interesting and original story. There's also the matter of explaining what made Travis did what he did at the end of the film. It's never given any explanation, other than the weak argument that "Travis doesn't make sense, so it fits the themes of the movie". At what point does incoherency become a film virtue?

Taxi Driver is a thoughtful and interesting character-driven narrative, with great performances and an original story that keeps you interested. It can be a bit slow, and incoherent near the end, but the film's positive elements - plus De Niro's amazing performance - make up for any major flaws.

8/10 - Great

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