Robert Dupea has given up his promising career as a concert pianist and is now working in oil fields. He lives together with Rayette, who's a waitress in a diner. When Robert hears from his sister that his father isn't well, he drives up to Washington to see him, taking Rayette with him. There he gets confronted with his rich, cultured family that he had left behind. Written by
Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>
"Five Easy Pieces" was one of the most revered films of the 1970s. It was the film that showed audiences what Jack Nicholson could do, after having worked for many years in movies that were seen only by real cinephiles, but not by a wider audiences. Not having seen the film in a long time, we decided to watch it when it showed on cable recently. The only thing is the copy we saw was not anamorphic in format, which on key scenes almost shows a blank screen while the characters talk off camera!
Bob Rafelson and Carole Eastman created a screen play that dealt with existential themes, a rarity in the American cinema. Mr. Rafelson was at the height of his creative period, something that later projects seem to contradict the promise he showed at the time.
Bobby Dupea, the main character of the story, is a complex individual who has left a life of privilege and culture behind to become an oil rig worker and getting away from his previous life. At the time we meet him, he is involved with Rayette, a simple woman who loves him, but one can see how different they are. That contrast comes more obvious when Bobby goes back home and meets Catherine, his brother's fiancée, who is a musician and seem to be more attuned with Bobby than the simple minded Rayette.
"Five Easy Pieces" was a film that showcased the enormously talented Jack Nicholson doing some interesting work. The measure of his acting ability is seen about half way in the movie as Bobby, Rayette, and the two lesbian hitchhikers have stopped at a diner. Bobby's meal order request creates a match of words in which Mr. Nicholson shows what he is capable of doing.
The film concludes with a puzzling scene, as Bobby and Rayette are heading back home. We watch them stopping at a gas station and little prepares us for what happens next. In a way, we have seen all along the film how restless Bobby has become and it's clear that in spite of his being with Rayette, she will never understands how to make him happy at all.
The reason for watching "Five Easy Pieces" is Jack Nicholson. His character is the most interesting one in the film and he does an excellent job in creating the tension behind this complex man he portraits. Karen Black's Rayette is annoying at times because of her whining. Susan Anspach comes out better playing Catherine. Some other familiar faces in the cast are, Sally Struthers, Ralph White, Lois Smith, Billy Green Bush and Fannie Flagg.
"Five Easy Pieces" is one of the best films of that decade.
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