Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 1999. De Fina-Cappa, Paramount Pictures, Touchstone Pictures. Screenplay by Paul Schrader, based on the novel by Joe Connelly. Cinematography by Robert Richardson. Produced by Barbara De Fina, Scott Rudin. Music by Elmer Bernstein. Production Design by Dante Ferretti. Costume Design by Rita Ryack. Film Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker.
Martin Scorsese returns to the harrowing themes of Taxi Driver that made him so popular twenty-odd years earlier. Nicolas Cage is mostly expressionless as a New York City ambulance paramedic whose long, late nights of driving around the city and picking up homeless alcoholics and hopeless criminals are wearing away at his soul. He does everything possible to get fired, but his job keeps a hold on him while he is haunted by visions of a young woman who died on his watch. His only release happens when he meets the kindly daughter (Patricia Arquette, then Cage’s wife in real life) of a patient who provides him with his first real human connection in a long time. Scorsese’s accustomed seamless style of photography and editing don’t fail him here, but Paul Schrader’s screenplay is rather uneventful and never gets at the heart of what he seems to want the story to be about. Instead it’s just two hours of relentlessly bleak imagery and shallow characters, not in any way aided by the fantastic acting or Thelma Schoonmaker’s superb editing.