What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie is a disturbing chronicle of psychopath. It has graphic violence and unnerving suspense. The voiceover narration of the main character is filled with obscenities and racial slurs. A young teen prostitute is a central character, and she has affection for her pimp, which is made clear. The final shootout scene is bloody and shocking, and it's followed by a somewhat confounding epilogue where the police praise main character's violent actions.
What's the story?
TAXI DRIVER centers on Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), an unhinged young man who has moved to New York following service in the military. In the city, he finds himself disgusted by the crime and "filth" on the streets. Unable to sleep at night, he takes a job as a night-time taxi driver - a job that brings him into close contact with many of the city's undesirable elements. Although he tries to connect with the people he meets (including a pretty campaign worker played by Cybill Shepard and a teen prostitute played by Jodie Foster), his awkwardness keeps him from succeeding. Rapidly, his mental state deteriorates, and he begins to fantasize about cleaning up corruption on his own. Ultimately, he enacts his warped idea of vigilante justice with some rather graphic and surprising consequences.
Is it any good?
Teenagers curious about extremely violent films are likely to learn of this film's reputation, especially the tour-de-force performance of Robert De Niro. Taxi Driver was the first major collaboration between De Niro and director Martin Scorsese. Working from Paul Schrader's script, the resulting film is deeply affecting in its ability to bring the viewer into the frame of mind of a violent and volatile social misfit. Feeding off a general sense of unrest that many young people will experience in life, the film does an amazing job of depicting Bickle as a real human being with problems, rather than a cartoonish villain. In Travis' mind, his morals are well tuned, obligating him to turn crusader for his own version of decency. It is hard to wholly cast him as the "bad guy," and so much moral ambiguity exists.
The imagery of New York City at night almost functions as a second main character, with striking visuals and all sorts of unsavory characters. A truly stunning masterpiece that helped to solidify an actor/director relationship that went on to produce many other great films.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the main character's motivations. Are there any clues given to the roots of his violent tendencies? Were his final very violent actions justified given his motive to "save" Iris? What do you think the filmmakers were trying to say about the media's influence on people's behavior? Do you think the media have an affect on yours?