“CHICAGO CAB”— A Day in the Life of a Cab Driver


A Day in the Life of a Cab Driver

Amos Lassen

“Chicago Cab” is the story of a day in the life of one put-upon cab driver (Paul Dillon) as he deals with weird riders during Chicago’s busy Christmas season.  The film is full of cameos (including Gillian Anderson, Laurie Metcalf, Julianne Moore, and John Cusack), but the real star is Dillon, a sad soul whose profession has him picking up a rape victim who is distraught one minute and a happy architect the next. This is a dark comedy that is also very somber. Directed by the husband-and-wife directing team of Mary Cybulski and John Tintori  bring us Chicago an empty, dark, dangerous, cold shell of a town that “sucks the life out of its inhabitants with every puff of frosty air.” The camera, which, unlike the stage, draws back and reveal just how little a single taxi is in a huge city.

Each of the taxi driver’s passengers is a colorful character with a story. The driver is a confessor of a sort to some and a target for others. He has more than 30 different fares from churchgoers (the first fares), who prompt their sullen young daughter to assist in saving the driver for Jesus. The last passenger is a quiet black man who listens to the driver’s sad story of the rape victim he has just taken home.

In between these two fares, he races a pregnant woman to the hospital, is tricked by a couple who pretend to have sex, witnesses a drug deal, gives legal advice to a man cheated by a used car lot, gets into what looks like a stickup situation, has a girl say “I wish you were my boyfriend,” and listens to some New Yorkers who insult Chicago. The only times he speaks is when a fare bring up the Bulls. We never learn his name and he is quite odd-looking, with a bald head and sideburns. He smokes, drinks coffee and does not seem to be happy ever. He gives rides to everyone. The most alarming guys he meets are the white kids looking for drugs on the South Side; they leave a girl in the cab, and he drives off with her – saving them both, maybe, from something bad.

There is some sense of a savior in him. A guy drops off his date and then tells the guy all about her including that she is a slut she and that he mistreats her and lies to her. Dillon gives us very little of this driver, just a few insights when he talks to himself in the empty cab. Basically, he is a witness and a cab driver who doesn’t know which way to turn.

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