Taxi Driver (1976) – thoughts of JMD
I’m slowly working my way through IMDb’s Top 250 films and most recent on my list was Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976). After watching Taxi Driver I am torn in two minds, I have just watched a brilliant film, yet somehow I am still disappointed. At number 42 in IMDb’s Top 250 I had high expectations, Robert DeNiro, Martin Scorsese and a famous scene with a mirror.
DeNiro’s portrayal of ‘Nam vet Travis Bickle’s descent into madness is mesmerising and I know I’m probably a latecomer in really appreciating his acting ability. Bickle is a lonely, socially inept man craving a greater purpose with no concept of how to achieve it. He distracts himself from insomnia by volunteering to drive his taxi “anytime, anywhere”, something shunned by most other drivers. The film follows Bickle’s search for purpose through Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) and her political campaigning. Bickle finds further purpose after a chance encounter with twelve-year-old street worker Iris (Jodie Foster). Bickle takes it upon himself to save Iris from her way of life, whether or not she wants saving.
In the last few weeks I have watched Clockwork Orange, Trainspotting and Seven, which perhaps explains my lack of shock at the violence on display in Taxi Driver. However even thirty-six years later I am still shocked by Jodie Foster’s performance. Given she was only thirteen at the time of filming it is all the more impressive how she steals the screen whenever she is on it, and seems completely unfazed by the adultness of her role.
I had one major gripe with the film which once I noticed it really bugged me the whole way through. The soundtrack. For a film that is so brilliant in so many respects it annoyed me at how poor the soundtrack was. The theme score is completely unfitting with the film’s tone and would sit much more at home had it been used in Top Gun or alike.
Critiques aside, it is because of films like this I decided to watch all of IMDb’s Top 250. The film is iconic, the script is excellent and the acting is flawless. Although the film is unlikely to enter my personal top 10 there is no doubt it will only be a short amount of time before I am putting it in my DVD player for a second watch.
JMD Rating: 8.1/10