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Film: Five Easy Pieces

A 1970 drama film that marked Jack Nicholson's transition from promising character actor to outright movie star. One of the early films of the so-called "American new wave" that flourished in the early 1970s, it featured flawed and often unsympathetic characters, idiosyncratic dialogue, and an ending that did not offer any conventional resolution. The plot involves Robert Dupea, an oil rig worker living with his waitress girlfriend, who returns to his family's estate and must face his past after his father becomes ill. Directed by Bob Rafelson. Also starred Karen Black, Susan Anspach, Billy "Green" Bush, Fannie Flagg, Ralph Waite, Sally Struthers, Toni Basil (later of "Mickey" fame), Lois Smith, and Helen Kallianiotes.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Disappeared Dad: Robert is on his way to become one after he abandons Rayette and her unborn child at a gas station in the end.
  • The Ditz: Rayette
  • Dramatic Thunder: Just after Robert and Catherine cross paths on the ferry. The sound of rain persists throughout the following scene.
  • Dysfunctional Family
  • Hidden Depths
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Bobby lays into a frosty intellectual for talking down to Rayette. He belittles her and sleeps around on her but is also protective of her, sometimes.
  • Jerk Ass
  • No Ending
  • The Other Rainforest: A significant portion of the film takes place at the Dupea's family estate in the Puget Sound area.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Catherine gives this to Robert after refusing to run away with him.
    Catherine: You're a strange person, Robert. I mean, what will you come to? If a person has no love for himself, no respect for himself, no love of his friends, family, work, something - how can he ask for love in return? I mean, why should he ask for it?
  • Scenery Porn: The Dupea estate and the areas around it, the California coast, and the oil fields around Bakersfield. Actually, just about every outdoor wide shot in the movie counts.
  • The Speechless: Robert's father.

FitzcarraldoRoger Ebert Great Movies ListThe Adventures of Antoine Doinel
The Fisher KingCreator/The Criterion CollectionFlesh For Frankenstein
IntermissionNational Film RegistryShaft
AirportAcademy AwardLove Story
Even Dwarfs Started SmallFilms of the 1970sI Drink Your Blood

alternative title(s): Five Easy Pieces
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