Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces is a road movie built around the evasive charm of Jack Nicholson. Screenwriter Adrien Joyce has partly fashioned the character around the actor’s own personality.
Nicholson is Bobby Dupea, a drifter who at first glance seems like every other blue-collar guy on the job at an oil field.
He lives with simple-minded sluttish waitress, Rayette (Karen Black) and spends his nights bowling with pals including a redneck co-worker (Billy “Green” Bush).
But Bobby is actually a highly educated blueblood slumming among the working class as a way of hiding from his past until a looming tragedy draws him back into the fold of his uptight family.
In the end, he forsakes his family, the pregnant Rayette, and the chance of happiness with Catherine (Susan Anspach), for the road to Alaska. It’s a poignant tale of wasted intelligence and American restlessness, and one of the few Hollywood films to explore the theme of class.
Karen Black is outstanding as Rayette the good-time girl a little past her prime who must slowly watch as she loses Bobby to his past and becomes the psychological punching bag for his self-loathing.
The title Five Easy Pieces refers to five pieces by Chopin (Bobby used to be a budding classical pianist).
Robert Eroica Dupea
Catherine Van Oost
Billy Green Bush
Carl Fidelio Dupea