Cuck review – a heavy-handed Taxi Driver ripoff

A laborious study of an angry, Travis Bickle-alike loner obsessed with porn and alt-right YouTube videos

Taxi Driver homage/ripoffs are coming around frequently enough almost to count as a whole new genre, and here is the latest travisbicklesploitation picture. There are a few ideas in it, but it’s pretty laborious, overextended and repetitive. Ronnie (Zachary Ray Sherman) is an angry loner who lives with his cranky old mom in Van Nuys, a neighbourhood in LA’s San Fernando Valley. His application to the military has been rejected, and now he does nothing all day but obsessively watch and create “alt-right” YouTube videos ranting about libtards, Muslims, feminists, gold-diggers, Chads, Stacys, black people and, of course, cucks – that insidiously nasty phrase for wussy male liberals.

There is a mild side interest in gauging this movie for conscious or unconscious borrowings from Taxi Driver. Like Travis Bickle, Ronnie loves porn and guns. Especially guns. Like Travis, Ronnie has a humiliating, catastrophic date with a politically minded liberal woman way out of his league. Where Travis monologued fanatically at himself in the mirror, Ronnie does it to his laptop camera. Where Travis drove a yellow cab, Ronnie is rejected for a job at an Uber-type firm because he’d have to drive his mom’s car, which has dodgy stickers all over it – a witty touch.

The new take offered by writer-director Rob Lambert is having Ronnie finally get a job in hardcore porn: he has to play the pathetic loser husband whose wife is having athletic sex in front of him with a member of one of the ethnic groups that Ronnie despises; ie, he has to be the cuckold. Well – interesting. And so is the implication that alt-right grandstanding is effectively the new porn frontier. But the film runs out of steam and becomes heavy-handed and ugly in parallel with Ronnie’s gruesome descent.

• Cuck is available on digital platforms on 20 April.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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