No táxi do Jack (Jack’s Ride)
Susana Nobre’s curious sort-of drama follows 63 year-old Joaquim (Joaquim Calçada) around Portugal looking for work – or rather for proof that he’s looking for work, since Joaquim is on the cusp of retirement and there are no jobs anyway. This makes No táxi do Jack (Jack’s Ride) particularly pressing in the midst of a pandemic that has caused mass unemployment around the world, but more generally in its depiction of a society waiting: waiting for work, waiting to retire, waiting for someone to stamp a form.
The Kafka-esque bureaucracy is underplayed compared with Ken Loach’s powerful I, Daniel Blake, since Nobre opts for a gentle slice of life over Loach’s polemical anger. She blurs the line between fact and fiction, as Joaquim reminisces over his time in New York as a taxi driver in the 1970s and the changed Portugal to which he returned, only to pull back to reveal him on a sound stage with New York literally a rear projection in his stories. She shoots on 16mm film to evoke 70s cinema, where the stylish protagonist wouldn’t look out of place in his leather jacket and Elvis hairstyle.
His recollections appear to be based at least partly in reality, though the scenes are staged – a format that confuses slightly more than it intrigues. Most of the 70-minute runtime is devoted to nostalgia, naturalism and ambient establishing shots, but out of nowhere comes an incredibly jarring crime scene and the whole film makes viewers wonder what exactly it is they’re watching. It’s not a deep exploration of the American Dream or the gig economy (though it handles those themes with interest), rather a portrayal of a man existing in a way many will find familiar at present. But Nobre’s sideways look at unemployment tips it into obscurity.
No táxi do Jack (Jack’s Ride) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Jack’s Ride here: