Yellow Cab is a fascinating look at New York City from the perspective of a filmmaker. It’s adapted by Chabouté from a book by Benoit Cohen and translated from the French by Edward Gauvin.
Almost ten years ago, Cohen finds himself exhausted. He doesn’t have stories to tell or energy to tell them. In order to try something different, and better understand the NYC culture he’s visiting, he decides to become a taxi driver as research for a movie character.
The black-and-white line art gives the whole thing an appropriate feel of an independent film. There’s lovely detail interspersed with silhouettes and dark skies. It’s very street-level, with Cohen riding the subway or driving a cab. But first, he’s got to jump through hoops, getting licensed and taking classes, toting up how much it all costs along the way.
At the same time, he’s thinking through how he could turn this into a film, giving the reader visibility into the creative mind and how a character develops.
The scenery really gives the feel of day-to-day city life. It’s a fantasy land — early on, Cohen lists a bunch of famous movies set in New York — but the actual existence is much different. The frequent wordless scenes set this stage beautifully, capturing the solitude whether alone in the cab or in a room full of other drivers-to-be. There are also a number of portraits of passengers, showing the wide diversity of the city.
I thought this was a gimmick. I ended up loving it — and missing NYC, for just a moment.