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USA 1998
Directed by
Mary Cybulski / John Tintori
96 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Chicago Cab

The idea of following a cabbie during the course of a shift sounds like a neat little vehicle (so to speak) for a low budget indie black comedy and that is exactly what you get with Chicago Cab. Based on a stage play, ‘Hellcab’, by Will Kern one can also imagine it would work as a theatre piece, with characters entering and exiting with very little back story and no connection to anyone but the driver.

A relative unknown (he has appeared on the small screen), Paul Dillon plays the taxi driver whose long shift brings him into contact with number of denizens of what used to be called “The Naked City”. From Jesus freaks to crackheads, a race to a hospital to deliver a baby, to taking a woman home who has just been raped, directors and editors Mary Cybulski and John Tintori serve up a tableau of winners and losers as the driver drifts from one side of Chicago to the other, both literally and metaphorically as he undergoes an existentialist crisis of sorts symbolized by an arm rest that keeps coming off despite his repeated attempts to glue it back on

Although sometimes touching, sometimes wryly amusing don’t get too excited by the cast list which includes John C. Reilly, Gillian Anderson, Michael Shannon and Julianne Moore to name but few. None appear onscreen for more than a few minutes.

The driver (he remains unnamed throughout) remains largely an observer  - ready to help his rides if they need it (most poignantly in the episode involving Reilly as a sexist creep) but ultimately letting himself by directed by the imperatives of his next passenger.

FYI: For a thematically comparable film see Jim Jarmusch’s Night On Earth  (1991)




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