One of the most depressing Nicholson films I have ever seen!
A promising concert pianist, Robert (Jack Nicholson) chucks it all to work on a California oil rig but returns home to confront the cultured and dysfunctional family he left behind when he learns his father is ill.
So if you love your Nicholson who’s always smart and funny in every movie that you see him appear in nowadays, your not going to want to turn towards this movie.
The one thing I was very surprised about in this film is that it actually does create a powerful dramatic atmosphere. Scenes that you would have never thought been so effective and powerful actually come out to become that way, and it is a very beautiful thing to see.
This film can be made as a character study cause it basically paints this wonderful portrait of an upper middle class dropout, who has to come to terms with all the promise he just ran away from. He basically plays out to be the voice for millions of people across the world, as a person who can’t seem to come to terms with his past, and can’t accept what the future has given him.
I only had a couple problems with this film that never really surpassed me at all. Complicated people are always the most interesting characters, but when a character is almost totally inscrutable, it is difficult to identify with them. Robert is so relentlessly self-destructive and frightened of any attachment to anyone or anything, that he is almost non-existent. Also, the fact that he left the music he played so well, but what for? We never really understand why he left it other than the fact that his family is a bit weird.
Nicholson is very very good in this film, and is basically a well-played guy that we start to hate more and more. Many of the scenes could have been just dull, but he makes them a lot better with his sure intensity and anger inside of this character. The problem with the cast was that none of the other people in the cast do that well, and a lot of times just fall to the side of Nicholson and his wonderful performance.
Consensus: Five Easy Pieces is not an easy film to sit through with its slow pace, but shows a wonderful character study that wouldn’t be anything without the great performance by a young Nicholson.