Taxi Driver is a portrait of a man off balance, and an examination of violence.
Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle, an insomniac war veteran who spends his nights in New York City during one of lowest period. Travis Bickle is a fascinating and strange character that certainly must have been a difficult character to play. One that could have been too mysterious, too crazy, or too bizaare but is not in the hands of Robert De Niro. Robert De Niro always has a perfect naturalism in the role of Bickle despite how odd Bickle can be at times in the film.
De Niro is effective because Bickle could have been played as just a psycho, but instead De Niro plays the character rather calmly. He never goes over the top at all, and always shows Bickle to be a man, just a man who has sort of lost touch with reality. He never exploits Travis and that is why his performance works so well. He brings the audience into his mind because he does not seem hostile at first. De Niro succeeds throughout the performance because he takes this approach.
De Niro is ggiid in every scene in this film It is interesting because he shows that Travis just does not exactly know how to behave correctly, and that his moral view is just strange. De Niro makes this strangeness to the character work, and seem natural despite the oddness. The way he tries to be romantic with Betsy(Cybil Shepard) is perfect. He is always at the just the right uneasiness in these scenes. De Niro makes it clear that he is trying but that he just cannot behave correctly. He doesn't know that people do not go to pornographic films normally, he just cannot comprehend why Betsy had a problem with it.
Another interesting part of the performance and character is the strange morality. A man who has two goals in the film, one insane and evil, the other technically noble and good although still off in some way. De Niro somehow shows that this is possible in the man, and he shows as naturally as possible. Bickle merely is that way, he will at one moment want to kill and innocent man although later want to kill guilty man to save a young girl. De Niro makes it all comes together and makes Bickle seem completely real, and out of that makes a memorable performance.