Movie Thirty Three
In his Great Movies write-up for Five Easy Pieces, Roger Ebert called it “the first Sundance film”. This was of course referring to the Sundance Film Festival, which did not begin for another eight years. What he meant by this was that Five Easy Pieces was a pioneering indie film.
Jack Nicholson plays Bobby Dupea, a musician working in an oil field, purposely making sure he does not live up to his potential. He is determined to be a mediocre outcast, but struggles to fit the role he wants for himself. Nicholson is divine as the lead role and despite his best efforts to make himself seem disagreeable, I found him to be identifiable and funny.
The story takes us with Bobby to visit his dying father back home. He travels with his girlfriend, whom he cannot seem to stand but keeps around as part of his facade. We discover he comes from a well off family and we also learn why Bobby wants so desperately to be his own man and disconnect from the bourgeois lifestyle. The film ends in a spectacular way that is perfect for the tone of the film.
After watching Five Easy Pieces I was surpised to learn it was nominated in four different categories for the 1971 Academy Awards, including best picture. I was not surprised because of the quality of the movie, but more so because I’m surprised audiences 40 years ago were very receptive to it.
The Criterion Collection has released Five Easy Pieces as part of their BBS Box Set. The set includes seven films from the BBS production company: Head, Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Drive, He Said, A Safe Place, The Last Picture Show, and The King of Marvin Gardens. I would highly recommend it, Five Easy Pieces alone makes it a gem.
I give it 5 barking Nicholsons out of 5.