Thursday, 25 November 2010

Five Easy Pieces

Some films just never seem to date, Bob Rafelsons Five Easy Pieces (1970), now re-released 40 years later, is one such movie. Best known for featuring one of Jack Nicholson’s finest performances as the American rebel Bobby Dupea.

Bobby Dupea
Robert Dupea was a child progeny, a brilliant classical pianist from an academic middle class family who run away to join America’s drifting working class. The film opens with Bobby earning a living in an oil field along with his friend Elton (Billy ‘Green’ Bush). His free time is spent drinking beer, and in bowling alleys. He has a girlfriend, a waitress and aspiring country singer Rayette Dipesto (Karen Black), an affair he does not want to commit to. When Bobby finds out from his sister Partita (Lois Smith) that his father is seriously ill following a stroke he returns home, taking the pregnant Rayette with him. The visit home gives Dupea an option to re-assess his way of life.

Rayette Dipesto
Rafelsons film, scripted by Carole Eastman, is about rejection of family life and the rootlessness that is bound to follow. No better demonstrated than by the final scene when Bobby abandons Rayette at a service station and hitches a ride on a truck heading for Alaska leaving behind his jacket and his wallet therefore relinquishing his existing identity. It always was the director’s intention to cast Nicholson in this role and started a run of the actor’s best films up to and including 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. If you have never seen this excellent piece of American cinema then now’s your chance.

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