the fresh films reviews

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Taxi Driver (1976)

Directed by:
Martin Scorsese



114 minutes

Produced by:
Michael Phillips
Julia Phillips
Written by:
Paul Schrader

Cast includes:

Travis Bickle Robert De Niro
Betsy Cybil Shepherd ½
Iris Jodie Foster ½
Sport Harvey Keitel
Tom Albert Brooks
Senator Charles Palantine Leonard Harris -
"Wizard" Peter Boyle -
"Easy Andy" Steven Prince -
Melio Victor Argo -



Martin Scorsese's universally hailed combined mood piece and character study from the night streets of New York City has remained compelling for half a century. We follow young cabbie Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) around on duty, where he falls into a downward spiral of mistrust, disgust, and ultimately complete isolation and alienation leading to extremist thoughts. The picture doesn’t look timeless – it has an aesthetic and an artlessness which affirms Scorsese’s low budget and relative inexperience at the time – but there is an undeniable thematic timelessness in the portrait of Bickle and his challenges, both the perceived and the factual ones. And Scorsese helps him along by creating a dark-lit, trancelike aesthetic which accentuates every form of decay and decadence he can point out. Through Travis Bickle, human goodness is put to the test. He is a man caught in a perpetual search for just a fragment of meaning in a life he has already given up. And De Niro's lead performance is consummate. He delves into Travis Bickle with heart and soul, and at no point can you separate the actor from the character. Only a young Marlon Brando could have done this better. Add to that the perfectly cast 12-year-old Jodie Foster as the child prostitute. There arguably was no other actress her age who could convey the same rare combination of risqué worldliness and childish disregard. Taxi Driver is almost devoid of optimism, which of course is why you cling onto the small rays of light it offers – lurking underneath, sometimes seeping to the surface, a vague hope for something better.

Re-reviewed: Copyright © 11.11.2023 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review: Copyright © 13.12.2003 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang