It’s too early to say, since I have four movies to go, but I think Taxi Driver is my favourite Blindspot pick of this year. Better than 2001: A Space Odyssey, better than the Before trilogy, and yes, a little better than The Shining. With Taxi Driver I felt more at ease, and more pleased by the end of it. Because the focus matter, the topic, the themes – it all sort of clicked.
My favourite thing about Taxi Driver is that despite being a 70’s movie, its subject matter is very current. It deals with depression, insomnia and harmful thoughts, which lead towards destructive choices. It also reminded me a lot of Nightcrawler, which in turn made me love Taxi Driver and Nightcrawler even more. The two films compliment each other well, and there are strong parallels between the two movies. But most importantly, both films heavily feature a troubled main character, who both, in their minds, think they are heroes.
Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a veteran, who takes on a nighttime job as a taxi driver. He does this because he can’t sleep, so he has something to do, while he’s supposed to be sleeping. During the day he goes to movie theatres and watches adult films, getting no real satisfaction out of them. Travis, in addition to being anti-social, lonely and depressed, is lost.
Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere.
– Travis Bickle
So he finds himself purpose. At first it’s a beautiful woman named Betsy (Cybill Shepard), who Travis tries to win over. In the beginning he succeeds, mostly because he is cocky and arrogant, unable to see his own flaws. Then he takes her to an adult film screening, a date destination which Betsy obviously does not like. In return, he starts to obsess over getting his revenge on her for walking out. Which is why he sets his sights on the political campaign she’s working for.
Meanwhile he encounters another character, Iris (Jodie Foster), who is an underaged prostitute. He tries to save her, fails but when his ultimate plan against the political campaign is a bust, tries again. Which leads us to the infamous final scene.
Taxi Driver is a complex movie because it doesn’t really give us an answer. Travis is as lost as he was in the beginning of the film, as he is at the end. The only difference being, people think of him as a hero. But before his ultimate heroic act, Travis thought killing a politician was heroic… So where does the hero in Travis end, and the villain begin?