Travis Bickle is a very lonely and depressed 26 year old who lives along in New York City, he takes a job as a taxi driver on night shift in order to help cope with his insomnia. He becomes disgusted by the sleaze he witnesses and in particular the prostitution.
Travis is a very tough character as he really does not actually seem to mean any harm to anyone, which I know is probably a very strange thing to say considering the two big things he does or tries to do. He becomes infatuated with Betsy who is a campaign volunteer for a presidential candidate. With his lack of social skills the date he takes her on does not go very well when he takes her to see a pornographic film. I have to admit with that scene you cannot help but feel utterly sorry for him. He genuinely did not realise the mistake he made considering he had been going alone to that theatre. Not somewhere you would go on a date though so Betsy goes home.
A child prostitute with the street name “Easy” (real name Iris) attempts to get away from her pimp Sport by getting in his taxi but is dragged out and that is something Travis cannot get out of his mind, keeping the crumpled $20 that was thrown at him. A third and final event which seems to really push him over the edge is when a passenger gets him to sit outside of an apartment declaring that his wife is up there having an affair and he is going to kill her and her lover. Certainly was not ready for that small role by Martin Scorsese himself! Nice little surprise I must say!
All of this corruption and sadness pretty much pushes Travis to a place of no return. Especially when he properly talks to and meets Iris, trying to convince her that she really should go back home and still be in school not what she is doing. The first scene between them in that horrible room is so uncomfortable to watch as it begin with I wasn’t fully sure why Travis was going to her in all honesty and it really does make you feel a little bit sick watching it. Until of course you realise what he is trying to do.
The Mohawk haircut was certainly a defining moment and really showed that he was going to commit crime himself. Not to be bad or anything but to try and change things for the better. Even if that is a difficult mentally to take into consideration. The scene where he heads to the brothel is extremely satisfying though and gets better with each move that he makes. Hopefully you aren’t squeamish when watching this scene though, that hand is blown straight off!
I really was not expecting it to end in the manner that it did and that was actually quite well nice. As nice as it can be anyway, as while Travis did the right thing in terms of morals it was still breaking the law. How do we know he would not do the same thing all over again and again? It certainly creates for some thought provoking moments which is very impressive all of these years later!
Taxi Driver is a very tough film to watch I cannot lie and say that I throughly enjoyed each and every scene because I feel that would be very weird given the subject matters involved. You feel uncomfortable at times and just don’t want to see certain things happening. I guess that is testament for how powerful the film really is. This was the first time that I made it through the full film, I have tried a few times to watch it but the uncomfortable nature put me off. So if you have done the same then please stick with it! It took me until at least the first hour to get into it and I really don’t see that as a bad thing at all.
Performances are outstanding “are you talking to me” from De Niro really is better when you see the full scene, as lets face it that really is an iconic moment in cinema. To understand the complexity of the character that is a defining moment. He manages to put across all different emotions and still somehow be very likeable. Outstanding that he actually worked as a late night taxi driver in NYC in early 1975 having just won an Oscar for The Godfather: Part II. Jodie Foster is on another level, at 12 years old to have her role in the film must have been very odd, thankfully when reading about it her sister who was 19 body doubled for certain scenes. (Something I wish I had known prior to viewing in all honesty). She fully deserved her Oscar nomination at that very tender age. In terms of smaller supporting roles Harvey Keitel was exceptionally creepy and Cybill Shepherd offered some lighter nicer moments to the film. Peter Boyle was also very good in his couple of scenes. With Martin Scorsese himself taking on a role as well, which I actually really enjoyed as it was unexpected.