Taxi Driver explores the psychological madness within an obsessed, twisted, lonely individual, who misdirectedly lashes out with frustrated anger and power like an exploding time bomb at the world which has alienated him. Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), an enigmatic, loner enters into the personnel office of a cab company. He applies as a driver in the taxi company to drive the taxi night shift, because he is an insomniac: “I can’t sleep nights” and he finds nothing meaningful to do during the days. As a therapeutic solution to his life, Bickle even offers to work Jewish holidays and ride into the city’s sleaziest areas – he explains that he might as well get paid for wandering around the city.
Through the conversations between the employer and Bickle it is revealed that Bickle is a licensed chauffeur, healthy 26-year-old ex-marine who got an honorable discharge. He ends up getting the job and the movie jumps to his an apartment. The apartment looked trashed and dirty. Once in the apartment De Niro narrates about how filthy and dirty the streets are and that hes making pretty good money but more importantly staying busy.
He is disgusted by the world and its sleaziness and states that ” One day a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets. Bickle works long hours sometimes from 6pm to 8am and while working is very disgusted by the city. In his free time though he represents everything that he hates about the city. He goes to the triple x theatre and even tries to pick up the concession stand worker. As he narrates he tells of how he is trying to find his own identity in the crowded city.Then one day, out of the monotony, walks a girl in which Bickle develops a severe crush.
He observes her from afar viewing her as an untouchable dream girl. A few days pass and Bickle gathers the courage to walk confidently in to the campaign headquarters, of presidential candidate Charles Palatine, where his crush, Betsy (played by Cybil Sheppard) works. He says he wants to volunteer in order to talk to her and when she says ok he tells her that he is not really interested in volunteering but wants to take her out for coffee and pie. She agrees and tells him to be back at 4pm that day.
The date went well and he called her and got her to go to the movies with him on his day off a couple of days later. In the next scene, Bickles fare gets in and he recognizes him as presidential candidate Palantine who he realizes had been in his cab before with a hooker. When Bickle asks if he is in fact Charles Palantine, Palantine says “yes” and asks Bickle what he thinks the biggest problem of the country is? Bickle states that he disgusted with the filth and sleaziness of the city and states very frankly that it needs to be cleaned up. The next day Bickle ended up taking Betsy to his typical hangout, the triple x theatre down the street.
She was apprehensive at first but went in anyway. Less than thirty seconds into the movie she got extremely offended and left very furious. Despite Bickles many attempts to reconcile his crush crushed him. This was a real eye opener into Bickles mind because as narrated he states his disgust towards women and even calls them a union. After Palantine gets out, a young prostitute jumps into his cab and says to get her out of here.
Bickle hesitated and looked over his shoulder as the rear door opened. An older man grabbed the prostitute by her arm and dragged her from the cab throwing a $20 bill on the front seat telling Bickle to forget about it. In the morning he returned to the cab company and the $20 bill, which lay untouched on the passengers seat, Bickle crinkled up and put in his pocket with disgust.
That night on his next shift a fare tells him to pull over to the curb and points to a window in the building across the street with the silhouette of a woman in it. He tells Bickle that the woman is his wife, she is having an affair and describes in detail that he is going to kill her with a forty-forty magnum, which arouses Bickles interest in guns. The next day one of Bickles co-workers introduces him to an illegal gun salesman. Bickle ends up buying 4 guns and then begins showing signs of obsession. He constantly holds them and looks in the mirror while practicing his draw and even builds a mechanical holster that projects the gun to his fingertips, from his sleeve at the flick of a wrist.
A couple of days later during his shift he almost hits the prostitute named Iris, played by Jodie Foster, that was plucked from his cab followed by the $20 tip to forget about it. A few nights later he is in a liquor store and ends up killing a thief that is attempting to rob the liquor store. The very thankful clerk took the gun from Travis and told him to get out of there and that he would take care of it. After his shift he spots the girl from the night before, and pays to get her alone. When they got up to the room he tries to get her to remember the incident. She says she was stoned and doesnt want to leave her situation. She is appreciative and agrees to have breakfast with him.
The next morning Bickle continues to try to get the girl to go back home to her parents and even offers her money to go.In an attempt to find his identity and clean up the world Travis Bickle makes an assassination attempt on Palantine which fails when the secret service sees him reach into his coat for a gun. So instead, on his shift that might he shoots Iriss pimp, the hotel manager that Iris works at and Iriss current client and in the process gets shot twice. He then put the gun to his own head but there were no bullets left.At the end he is identified by the media as a hero and in a sense finds his identity. In the final scene, he picks up a fare and it is the woman from his crush as she takes interest he becomes disinterested. When she gets out she sees that he is not interested and he tells her not to worry about the fare as he drives off.
If I had to diagnose the character played by Robert De Niro, I would definitely say that he has borderline personality disorder although he does have symptoms of a couple of other disorders described in chapter ten. I would say that he has borderline personality disorder because he fits the four core elements described by Morey in the textbook.