One Taxi Ride


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

One Taxi Ride
"This is an extraordinarily intimate film."

If there’s one thing that nearly all trauma victims have in common, it’s that little voice in the back of the mind asking “What if I’d done things differently?” Even when there’s no sense of guilt, no rational reason to ask the question, still it lingers – an awareness of the randomness of many misfortunes, of the long string of events which, had they happened only slightly differently, would mean that particular paths never crossed, letting life go on interrupted and unfathomably different. For Erick the questions are: what if he hadn’t gone to Zona Rosa that night? What if he hadn’t been alone? What if he hadn’t got in that cab?

He’s been wondering that since he was 17.

Like many rape victims, he felt unable to talk about it at the time. The taxi driver and the other two men who participated in the assault saw his ID and threatened him. There didn’t seem to be much point in going to the police. It didn’t occur to him to go to a doctor, despite his physical injuries. He hid it away and his life slowly disintegrated whilst his family looked on in worry, sometimes in anger, with no idea what was going on.

CK Mak’s documentary begins when Erick is 27 and has decided that he’s had enough of, as he puts it, living a lie. Although he’s struggled with feelings of guilt, he understands clearly now that it wasn’t his fault and he wants to make sure other people understand that about rape in general. He’s also ready to take responsibility for trying to resolve the mental health problems it left him with. Tentatively getting into a new relationship, he explains to his new boyfriend – in front of Mak’s camera – that he has mood swings and sometimes lashes out, and that, though he is trying to change, he can only be with somebody who understands that and is ready to deal with it. The new boyfriend says he’s up for that. Finding the courage for other conversations takes more time but this is a positive start.

This is an extraordinarily intimate film. Erick is ready to share on camera things that many people feel unable to share even in private. Given the other people involved, the ethics of this are complicated; some scenes one might expect to see are missing and one suspects that this is why they were excised. The value of showing such discussions on film cannot be underestimated, however, given how many people are likely to see this film whilst mentally rehearsing their own.

Many other people’s stories intersect with Erick’s. His brothers seem to feel that they are getting him back after a long absence. Each has a different approach to trying to make sense of what happened. They care about him but still call him out when he’s behaving in a problematic way. We see something of the instability he’s talked about. His hair changes colour every other scene; it’s a little thing but it hints at something deeper, a fear of getting too close or familiar, an inability to settle.

Erick now gives talks about his experience, helping to raise awareness of the fact that men are raped and helping survivors more widely to understand that they don’t need to feel shame. His openness prompts others to start talking for the first time. There are many tearful embraces. The more he is able to reach out to others, to turn his suffering into something new, the more the tension begins to leave him. It’s only as it fades from his face, from his movements, that one really takes in how much of it has been there.

This is a remarkable journey to capture on film. The documentary itself is sometimes rambling and sometimes struggles to bring all its component parts together, but it is an important piece of cinema.

Reviewed on: 01 Mar 2020
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One Taxi Ride packshot
A documentary following a man's journey to recovery years after he was sexually assaulted in a taxi in Mexico City.

Director: CK Mak

Year: 2019

Runtime: 84 minutes

Country: Mexico, Singapore


Glasgow 2020

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