Viewed – 15 August 2007 DVD
“God’s lonely man” is what eponymous anti-hero Travis Bickle self-titles himself, and its a perfect description of this lost soul, working the cabs, suffering insomnia and despising the world around him. As an ex ‘Nam marine turned cabbie, Bickle is a slow burning match, that could spark at any moment. He understands he has a calling in life…is it to find the girl? Is it to listen to other people’s troubles, or is it to rescue a 12 year old prostitute? Or maybe it’s to rehearse an imagined confrontation in a mirror buy saying ‘You talking to me?’ in one of cinema’s most imitated moments.
A young Robert DeNiro is perfect as the somewhat unhinged sociopath that you can’t help feel a combination of contempt and sympathy for – he screws up a perfectly good chance with a dream girl (a gorgeous Cybil Sheppard), because he really doesn’t understand how things are meant to play out, and he is forever lost in his nightly journal; his one agony-aunt that can’t stop him from tipping over the edge.
Directed by the brilliant Martin Scorsese, this is one of his most iconic and acclaimed films, with some memorable characters (Jodie Foster’s street-wise hooker is heart-breaking) and again another stunning performance from DeNiro in what was only his second major film with his would-be mentor (after Mean Streets). So any fan of either DeNiro or Scorsese just has to see this. Simple as that.
The newly-released Special Edition DVD is presented in a nice fold-out casing, has some photo post-cards and a second disc packed with featurettes that analyse this film and the work of Scorsese to near breaking point. Writer Paul Schrader also offers a commentary.
Verdict: 4 /5