Starring: Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Billy Green Bush
Director: Bob Rafelson
Running Time: 98 mins
Five Easy Pieces is an American film about a formerly upper-class man, now working on oil rigs in the southern US, who, after years of a normal life as a normal person, has to return to his family and face his past, which has an unexpected impact on him.
I was a little disappointed by this film. Apart from yet another class performance by Jack Nicholson, and some good supporting performances as well, this film was never as emotionally impacting as it needed to be in order to portray the huge emotional stress suffered by its characters.
I’ll start, though, with the positives. The central performance by Jack Nicholson as a man who has a huge shift in his lifestyle more than once in the story was excellent. In what can only be seen as a rather preposterous change in class in this man’s life, Nicholson manages to convince you perfectly that this character, although seemingly an average American, could actually be a member of the upper classes at heart.
There’s also a great conflict that unfolds as this movie goes along. With the unbelievable contrasts of this man, a former concert pianist, now oil-rig worker, and the relationship between him and his much lower-class girlfriend (played brilliantly by Karen Black), allow a real emotional turmoil top develop for the main character, which as you can see it so clearly, it’s often fascinating to watch.
However, the film doesn’t really deliver on the deeper, more personal themes that it tries to convey. There’s a lengthy ‘monologue’ towards the end of the film by Jack Nicholson’s character about what life is, what the meaning of it all is etc., however during that, as well as other parts of the film discussing that theme, you don’t get the real impact that you should.
With such a hugely relative theme, it should be easy to immediately connect with the characters and the story, and be drawn into it so deep in an emotional manner, however I would say that it was not only the weakness of the delivery of this idea, but also the very slow pacing of the film that doesn’t allow you to become so engrossed in it.
Overall, then, this gets a 6.8, because for all its fantastic performances and good storyline, it never really delivers deeply enough to keep you fully engrossed in its story.