“You talkin’ to me?!”
Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle is a Vietnam vet apparently unable to sleep, who drives his yellow cab endlessly through the infernal darkness of New York by night, haunted and obsessed by the squalor, possessed of an ambiguous need to cleanse, to redeem or to destroy. Bernard Herrmann’s score is unforgettable and so is Paul Schrader’s screenplay.
Robert De Niro’s work in Taxi Driver is at its most spellbinding in one particular scene. Travis Bickle is upset. He is on the verge of completely blowing up. He wears and zips up his jacket, moves across the room and looks at himself in the mirror. He imagines a conversation with his target whilst pulling out his gun. It is then that he utters one of cinema’s most iconic lines: “You talkin’ to me?!”.
Another remarkable performance in Taxi Driver is that by Jodie Foster. Then only at the tender age of 13, Foster nevertheless is able to deliver a superb role as the prostitute Iris. She becomes the center of Travis Bickle’s mission to save the city from everything that is rotten.
Taxi Driver won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and established Martin Scorsese as one of the great directors of his time.