Film Review: IMDBinge - Taxi Driver
Catherine's 2016 Challenge - watch all 250 of IMDb's top rated films. Today she reviews Martin Scorsese's classic, Taxi Driver, which celebrates its ruby anniversary this year. After 40 years, Taxi Driver is now currently no. 80 on the IMDb list.
At number eighty on the list and frequently included on lists of the best films of all time, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is considered a classic among classics, even being hailed as one of the late Roger Ebert’s ‘Great Movies’. It was nominated for four Oscars, won three BAFTAs and was nominated for another four. It has a 99% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and 93% from audiences. So I find myself at a complete loss. How did all these people love it so much when I categorically hated it?
In my bid to find out, I reach for my copy of Ebert’s book and flip to the section on Taxi Driver. To set the scene, the plot revolves a young veteran named Travis Bickle (Robert DiNero), who becomes a taxi driver in New York City in an attempt to quell his evident insomnia. He is a lonely man, living in a run down apartment, making poor attempts to reach out to people and connect. What Ebert has written largely makes sense. He points to the infamous scene in which Bickle finds himself in front a mirror, asking ‘Are you talking to me?’. Ebert points out that ‘it is the last line, “Well I’m the only one here,” that never gets quoted’, furthering claiming that ‘it is the truest line in the film’. He is completely alone. When he attempts to date a woman, he accidentally repels her when he takes her on a date to see a porno. He is desperate and in his desperation he pushes people away. The tighter you hold on to some things, the quicker they slip away.
But being lonely, tired and mentally unstable isn’t enough. Ebert says that he is ‘drawn into Travis’ underworld of alienation, loneliness, haplessness, and anger’. Well I sure wasn’t. There were a number of moments where I wanted to stop watching. I was bored. Who am I meant to be sympathising with? Who am I rooting for? Definitely not this guy. When Betsy understandably rebuts him after their porno non-date, he blames her for being just like everybody else. When she doesn’t return his calls, he goes to her office to bully and intimidate her. It’s not just that he wants acceptance but he thinks he deserves it. He wants to connect with people but he can’t because what he truly thinks is that he is superior to them.
Besides the fact that I found it impossible to connect with this film emotionally or ideologically, I also found the soundtrack jarring, although I realise there are many people who think it’s a work of genius. What really irritates me is that there is no comeuppance for Travis whatsoever. It is a subject of some debate whether or not the last section is real or imaginary. Either way, the narrative of the film lets him have that moment. It lets him have his satisfaction and that is something I don’t feel like he deserves.