Five Easy Pieces

1970, Movie, R, 96 mins


This episodic character study is one of the key American films of its era. Nicholson, in an early major performance, appears to be a redneck oilrigger in a California oil field. He and his best friend, Bush, when not working together, spend most of their time bowling, downing beers, and just hanging out. This lifestyle is actually a charade. Nicholson hails from a well-to-do family of musicians. He's a brilliant classical pianist who's given up the instrument in favor of another life.

When Black, his witless waitress girlfriend, announces she's pregnant, he leaves his job and heads for Los Angeles to visit Smith, his sister, who is also a pianist and about to record an album. Smith tells Nicholson that their father, Challee, has suffered a pair of strokes back at their home on Puget Sound and he should visit the old man before he dies. Black talks him into taking her along. They bid Bush and his wife, Flagg, goodbye and begin the drive to Washington. What follows is a probing examination of the upper middle class American way of life.

Nicholson delivers a brilliant, edgy and complex characterization and Black won the 1970 New York Film Critics Award for her courageous performance as well as an Oscar nomination. Deceptively simple, PIECES is one of the most complex pictures of the 1970s. leave a comment

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