After nearly a whole week of letting everyone else do the work on my blog, I decided it’s high time for me to step back up and fulfill some more of my own film resolutions. If you’ve missed this series so far, definitely peruse the Resolutions 2014 Archives because there have been some truly excellent write-ups. And now I come to this resolution—quite possibly the most critically acclaimed of the three films I’ve reviewed and, according to Rotten Tomatoes, “a must-see film for movie lovers.” I would consider myself a movie lover, but you know what? I did not love this film. Please resist the urge to unfollow me while I give you my take on Taxi Driver.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Synopsis: “A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.” –www.imdb.com
What I liked:
- Robert De Niro. There is no denying his talent in this film. As messed up Vietnam vet Travis, De Niro portrays a very real, believable character. His awkwardness, his earnestness, his disgust—De Niro expresses all these things expertly. Frankly, I’m a little surprised that he didn’t win an Oscar for this performance.
- The behind-the-scenes look at taxi drivers. It’s not a viewpoint you get very often. I liked this especially in the beginning when one worker is announcing addresses into a microphone and cabs are coming and going. I’m sure this system has changed, but it’s interesting to see.
- The diary/letter format. It’s a great way to get in Travis’s head. He’s a character that tends to ramble and repeat things out loud, but the diary format helps him get right to the point. Several excellent monologues from De Niro.
- Travis’s relationship with Iris. Travis has trouble getting along with most people, but he latches on to Iris (Jodie Foster), a young prostitute. He shows a nicer side of himself when he tries to help Iris escape her profession, not because he has a romantic interest in her, but simply because thinks she’s too young and he worries about her. It’s a bright moment for an otherwise dark anti-hero.
- Travis’s mirror monologue, which includes the famous “You talkin’ to me?” Yes. So much yes.
What I didn’t like:
- There is no one to root for in this film. Travis is the only character we really get to know, and he’s such an unsavory person most of the time that he’s barely even an anti-hero. His only redeemable quality is his attachment to Iris. I see that the film is trying to make a point about Vietnam and the state of the U.S. in the ’70s and yadda yadda, but that doesn’t make me sympathize with Travis, let alone root for him.
- To me, this film drags. I realize it’s 35+ years old, so naturally the pacing is going to be slower—I’m used to that with older films—but this one went such long periods without anything very interesting happening that I often got bored.
- So he doesn’t shoot the presidential candidate and instead settles for…a pimp? Really?
- The ending. It’s confusing. How does Travis survive? How is he not in jail? Why does he suddenly seem somewhat normal? Is this real or some kind of crazy dream ending? Martin Scorsese, why must you mess with me like this?!
- That saxophone music. MY GOD MAKE IT STOP.
A Worthy Resolution? Meh. I’m sorry, Scorsese lovers, but I could’ve skipped this one and been perfectly happy. This film made me uncomfortable, frustrated, confused, and, unfortunately, a little bored. De Niro is phenomenal, so if nothing else I’m glad I watched it for him, but the film is so damn grim and heavy that I couldn’t enjoy it. Perhaps it’s silly of me to even try to apply the word “enjoy” to a movie like Taxi Driver, but hey, isn’t that why we watch movies? To get caught up in a story and enjoy ourselves? Maybe I’m just not classy enough for Scorsese. Sorry, guys. Please don’t hate me.
My Grade: B
So for better or worse, there you go. I’m more optimistic about some of the other films I plan to do, so here’s hoping things go up from here. I’ve had a few people say they’re sending reviews my way, so more guest resolutions to look forward to next week! Also, I went to the movie theater last night, and I intend to bring you a review of that film ASAP, so be on the lookout. Hope your weekend is excellent!