The cult 1976 Martin Scorsese directorial Taxi Driver is many things, but a romance it is not. Definitely not the boy meets girl kind. So when we see the protagonist Travis try and mingle with the fairer sex, it is a moment of surprise, a pleasant diversion even.
The sequence that I am talking about features lead actors Robert De Niro (Travis) and Cybill Shepherd (Besty). Betsy and Travis are on their first date, it is a humble diner and the two are just getting to know each other. That awkward first date experience, the jokes falling flat as two people size up each other is represented well here. And this is especially remarkable because we don’t usually associate the words romance and dates with Scorsese features.
The actors play their parts ably. Cybill’s portrayal of Betsy is of a woman who knows her mind but is reserved. Whereas, the usually aloof and unusual Travis is the chatty one in this scenario. While there are numerous moments in Taxi Driver that deserve a shout-out, for me, this is the moment that stands out. Because in the cynical and somewhat dark world of Travis, it’s nice to see something as ordinary as dates.
Travis’ sincerity in terms of the attraction that he feels for Besty is heartwarming to see. His attempts to woo her, to compliment but at the same time shock her with his analysis is disconcerting yet warm — a strange paradox. What helps the case here is the palpable chemistry that the actors seem to share.
Sequence of note | Tamasha | La La Land | Swades | 96: Trisha tells a story | Rang De Basanti’s ‘Koi Future Nai’ | Inglourious Basterds’ strudel scene | Delhi 6’s Dil Gira Dafatan | The eerie conversation from Get Out
Taxi Driver is available for streaming on YouTube.