Listen to this fascinating discussion of the impossible-to-swallow, fantasy-projection finale of Martin Scorsese‘s just-restored Taxi Driver by Slate‘s Dana Stevens and John Swansburg. It feels like a two-character play about a gap in comprehension among two extremely bright observers, and how they can absorb every detail of a classic film and still miss something really obvious.
Stevens and Swansburg list all the incredulous stuff during the film’s final minutes — tabloid news stories describing Robert De Niro‘s East Village whorehouse shootout as “heroic,” Jodie Foster‘s parents writing to thank him for saving their daughter, Cybil Shepard getting into his cab out at the very end and giving him admiring looks, De Niro’s Mohawk haircut completely grown out two or three months later — and they still can’t accept and in fact half-dismiss that the dreamlike coda is fantasy. Why? Because there hasn’t been any “precedent” or “cue” for a fantasy sequence. Swansburg actually calls it “a little bit of a false note.”