Taxi Driver (1976)

1 - 0Tr3ZMW

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Reviewed by Rob from Guys Film Quest

Taxi Driver – Too Much Substance  FQ13  106    Guys Film Quest

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There’s no doubting the quality of the movie in terms of acting and directing, but the flow of the film just detracted from the overall experience for me. It would have worked better as a mini-series.

Memorable Performances:

There’s a reason people praise Robert De Niro for his work in this film. It’s certainly top notch. Apart from that, there’s no one in the film long enough to make much of an impression.

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Favorite Parts:

The scene where De Niro’s character goes into the campaign headquarters and asks Cybill Shepard’s character to go on a date with him was one of my favorite parts, because it showed how complex the character was. Typically characters like this are written to be almost totally of one demeanor and not necessarily in their right mind. Even though the film is about a man who gets obsessed over things while he’s battling insomnia, the way it’s written and the performance given help give him a human dimension that keeps him from being just a caricature. He’s real. He’s not totally obsessive.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel when I reached the very iconic “Are you talking to me?” scene. I wasn’t sure it was going to be able to live up to the hype, and going into it, I figured people were exaggerating, but it’s certainly a strong point in the film, and easily one of the more memorable scenes in De Niro’s career.

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The Regrettable Aspects:

The pacing. This film would have been much better served to be a mini-series. Look at the amount of storylines covered in the film:

  • His status as a Veteran
  • His insomnia
  • His interactions with the other cab drivers
  • His solace in the pornographic theaters
  • His obsession with Cybill Shepard’s character
  • His obsession with Presidential Candidate – Senator Palantine
  • His disgust with the prostitution he sees.
  • Building his custom arsenal
  • His obsession with Jodie Foster’s character (and her background)
  • The aftermath of his attempt to help Jodie Foster’s character return home

They could have easily filled about a dozen (or at the very least a half-dozen) hour-long episodes. And yet, none of them are fully done justice.

Would I watch it again?

At some point, I might do a video-review for this film where I break things down and use clips from the film to help make my point. If I end up doing that, I’ll certainly watch it once or twice leading up to that point to help figure out exactly how I want to present my position, but I wouldn’t watch it again purely for entertainment’s sake.

To Whom Would I Recommend It?

Anyone who is trying to have a strong movie-viewer resume needs to see this. If someone’s looking for an enjoyable movie, they shouldn’t probably seek this out.

08 - YAvHV5B

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31 thoughts on “Taxi Driver (1976)

  1. 8 is certainly a respectable rating and I do understand your gripes. I would probably give it the same rating or slightly lower as I think it is a little overrated. It has been years since I seen it, though, so I’ll make my mind up when the time comes again.

    Thanks for getting involved Rob. 🙂

  2. Awesome post! I like how you break down the movie. I like Taxi Driver but it isn’t up there with other Scorcese / De Niro films for me. I did enjoy the rawness and intensity, though. I haven’t watched it in a long while. After re-visiting it, I may hold it in higher regard. Good job, Rob!

    • Thanks Victor, I appreciate it! I would have to say that out of everything I’ve reviewed, I think this review is my best-written one yet in terms of explaining my full thoughts about a film!

  3. I’ve only ever seen this once and, honestly, I didn’t really like it that much but never wanted to say anything because I don’t want to get screamed at by Tyson – AGAIN….

  4. I have never actually seen this, probably the most iconic De Niro film. Brilliant review, I like the different sections of the review and how you discuss whether you are going to re-watch it.

  5. This was a new one for me too, I finally got around to seeing it last year. I definitely enjoyed it, but I did feel like the story was fragmented at times. Great review!

  6. I can’t really get behind this, I have to say. This is a film is a goddamned masterpiece – and the acting from Jodie Foster is spectacular, arguably better than De Niro’s. The jittery pacing seems perfectly suited to Bickle’s mounting paranoia and instability. I could go on, but I can understand a muted reaction on first viewing; I just found this okay when I first saw it as a teenager, and it wasn’t until future viewings that its true power was revealed.

    • I’m glad you’ve confirmed that Dave. The last time I seen this I was a teenager. Don’t get wrong, I liked it but I couldn’t quite grasp the masterpiece that it was hailed as. Definitely due a revisit from me. I can’t fully comment until I’ve seen it again. Anyway, it’s a review I want to tackle for my own site.

      • There’s a depth to the film in both character and symbolism (and some literary references) that flew right over my head in the first couple viewings. I’d recommend flicking through this site (http://www.sparknotes.com/film/taxidriver/) before or after the next time you see it, it really strengthened my appreciation for the film (which has consistently hovered around my personal top 5 for over a decade).

  7. I’m loving this blogathon because contributors are giving fresh views.

    Its interesting, I have been a massive fan of this film since I saw it at the 051 cinema in Liverpool in the late 80s, but when I showed it to friends, they had a similar reaction to this: they said it was uneven, bleak and unengaging.

    I think it is a masterful collaboration: Schrader’s screenplay is an existential classic, Scorsese’s smoke drenched vision is a great depiction of a mind in trauma, Herrmann’s soundtrack is beautifully sordid and De Niro … he has never been better – depth, compassionate, scary and … real.

    It’s a ten De Niro out of ten De Niros!

    Did you know that ‘You Talkin’ to me’ routine came from early Springsteen performances? The Boss would say it to the crowd, “there’s no one else here.” De Niro told Clarence ‘Big Man’ Clemons, so it must be true.

  8. Nice review. 🙂 This is one of those movies that I think I’ve seen all of by seeing part of it here & there but have never watched all at once from start to finish. I should give it a full watch someday…

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