Taxi Driver – Too Much Substance [FQ13 #106]

Dealing with his inability to sleep, Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle takes a job as a taxi driver and his obsessive nature emerges.


Why I Saw It: It’s only one of the most well-respected movies of all time. Most people point to it as one of Robert De Niro’s best performances of his career, and one of Martin Scorsese’s best directorial works. It was a huge hole in my movie-viewing resume.

Rating: 8.1 out of 10
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.

Potential Nominations for Film Quest ’13:  

  • Best Actor – Robert De Niro

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.


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.

Other Recommendations:

THE MISSION – A great acting performance from Robert De Niro in a film that not enough people know about. The plot is strong, his character is complex, and it’s a well executed film.

– ANALYZE THIS – Though some might be dismissive of this film because it’s a comedy, there’s some really good work in it from Robert De Niro where he deals with some deep emotional issues, and it’s far more entertaining than a lot of his other movies.

HEAT – Some people consider this among the top heist films of all time, and although I’m not sure if I’d rank it at the very top, it’s certainly very close, and De Niro is also very good in his role here.

THE DEPARTED – In terms of a high quality, entertaining, thoughtful movie from Martin Scorsese filled with great performances, this is near the top of my recommendations.

If you’ve got recommendations for alternatives to TAXI DRIVER, or for other similar films, let me know!

Next up… Million Dollar Baby!


One response to “Taxi Driver – Too Much Substance [FQ13 #106]

  1. Pingback: Taxi Driver (1976) | You Talkin' To Me?·

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