ROBERT DE NIRO
A raw, gritty tale of loneliness and despair set against the seedy streets of New York City, Taxi Driver has become an extremely influential piece of cinema.
Robert De Niro stars as Travis Bickle, a Vietnam veteran who takes a job as a New York taxi driver. As his attempts to become apart of society back fire, Travis becomes even more isolated as he decides to take out the "scum of the earth" that fill the city once and for all.
Travis Bickle has endured as a poster child for the alienated dregs of society. Never mind that Travis is a racist, homophobic killer. The fact that he stood up to and took down the scum of the earth has fulfilled the fantasies of many, with “Gods lonely man” the most popular anti-hero in cinema history.
De Niro is perfectly cast as Travis, diving head first into his character by working as a taxi driver for several weeks, creating from the ground up a frightening study of quiet intensity and murderous rage, the demons inside his head never letting go.
Yet it is the little things that De Niro does that shows why he is regarded as one of the best actors of all time, the karate stance he takes while being forced outside by Albert Brooks' character a reminder of Travis' training as a marine is a personal favorite of mine. And who can forget the classic "Are you talking to me?" scene, with Travis playing make believe in front of the mirror?
Jodie Foster is excellent as the young teenage prostitute Iris, the one thing in Travis' life that is worth a damn. Foster was only 13 years old at the time, showing a maturity beyond her years while giving an indication of the things to come. Scorsese regular Harvey Keitel is also great as Iris' pimp Sport, while Cybil Sheppard and Peter Boyle are good in minor roles.
Director Martin Scorsese uses the camera to illustrate Travis' point of view. The viewer see what he sees, thus we have an insight into the madness that has gripped him as he slowly turns into an angel of death. Yet there are times when Scorsese pushes it a little too far, with one key scene where Travis is talking to Cybil Shepherd's character on a payphone only for Scorsese to move the camera facing an empty hallway reeking of empty symbolism.
Never the less, Taxi Driver still stands as a powerful cinematic landmark delivered by one of the finest cinematic pairings in Scorsese and De Niro. An excellent film which gets better with repeated viewings.