Gypsy Cab

Gypsy Cab


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

A gypsy cab is a private vehicle being used an unlicensed taxi. For many, particularly in conditions of economic decline, it's the best economic option. This film follows three such cabs, which are common across the former Soviet Union, in Russia, Kyrgystan, and Kazakhstan.

Supplanting a pension seems straightforward enough, and it's an alternative to farming too, but while those stories are affecting the film takes an almost Ballardian direction in Aralsk, where the sea has dried up. Gypsy Cab features a line that bears amazing import, crying out to be allegorical when it is merely statement of fact - "once, seagulls flew here; now there are only ravens". With sandy docklands, rusting hulks, the taxi we follow drifts through an unfathomable landscape. The landscapes are well presented, indeed, this is a fascinating film to watch, the economic and regulatory fabric that these cabs slip through. Visually it's compelling, aided by music from Mr Credo.

James Rogan's film is intriguing, not least because such taxis operate almost everywhere. On the basis of this film it's tempting to suggest that someone pitch a series, as the three stories here are indicative but not exhaustive, and there are plenty more such tales out there - a brief bit of research reveals wide variations in their names, and subsets like Amish taxis. It's always a worry for documentarians that they get caught in a rut, revisiting the same subject or set thereof, or become more famous for what they've looked at than how they've done so. It's to Rogan's credit and indicative of his talent that he's produced a film that's anything but pedestrian.

Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2010
Share this with others on...
The phenomenon of the 'gypsy cab' - Russian, spontaneous, unlicensed taxis.
Amazon link

Director: James Rogan

Year: 2009

Runtime: 14 minutes

Country: Russia, UK, France


EIFF 2010

Search database:

If you like this, try:

Pink Taxi