Sunday, May 23, 2010

A movie review: Five Easy Pieces (1970)

Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Director - Bob Rafelson
98 Min
Robert Eroica Dupea - Jack Nicholson
Rayette Dipesto - Karen Black
Elton - Billy Green Bush

Five Easy Pieces has a plot that can be summed up in very few sentences, but it is a film which carries far deeper and thought-provoking issues of what it is to be a human being in turmoil. The man who is able to pull off this great feat of acting is Jack Nicholson who was already known to the public through 10 years of film work, including Easy Rider (1969). It is difficult to imagine what a film like this would have meant to a 1970s audience (it would be wrong to discuss a film from 40 years ago without at least attempting to put it into context) but I am probably not the best person to come up with answers. Instead, I’ll stick to what I do know: This film is a wonderful and complex character piece that happens to be taking place within the confines of a film – the plot of the movie is important because it grounds us in the world of Robert, but what is actually happening in his world is fairly irrelevant, since it is only a matter of time before he seeks out a new environment.

The movie centers on the life of Robert, who we are introduced to as an oil field worker who hangs out with his simple friends and waitress girlfriend at the trailer park or at the bowling alley. He is clearly not a stable individual, full of anger and resentment. At one point while stuck in traffic he leaps from his car and begins yelling at everyone, including a barking match with a dog which he wins. Upon learning that his father is very ill, he decides to make a trip to his childhood home in Washington, bringing along his girl Rayette (Karen Black). While there visiting his family we come to realize that Robert has been running away for quite some time. Born into a privileged existence and a family full of musical talent, Robert at some point decided to flee the rigid routine of a classical pianist and search for something else. Clearly he has not found and most likely will never find what he is looking for, because mainly he is just looking to get away from what he had.

I really love the way this film does not preach to us nor does it give us easy answers. This is a man who has a lot of internal turmoil. He is not a good person to his friends, family or girlfriend, yet he still has all of them if he needs them. The ending of the film was brilliant and perfect and there is no other ending that could have captured the entire feel of the movie in one scene. Famous scenes from this film include the diner scene when Robert tries to order a side of toast by asking for a chicken sandwich ‘hold everything’ and the scene where he plays piano in his house while the camera pans through past years of family history, including his own, as classical musicians – a clear and stark difference to the world he now inhabits.

***** out of 5

No comments: