Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970)
From the era that brought us Easy Rider until Raging Bull aka The Second Golden Age of Hollywood/American Cinema. The 1970's were a time where new American directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin, Hal Ashby, Terrence Malick and many others redefined the way films were made. Influenced by European Cinema of the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Ingmar Bergman, Luis Bunuel, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, the American directors digested the those influences and used them to analyze and criticism the modern America.
Of that group of filmmakers, actors, producers Jack Nicholson was one of the center actor. He wrote and acted in many films now classics of that era. On his side Bob Rafelson was mainly a producer and his most known and successful film is Five Easy Pieces. Sadly, for his directorial career Rafelson was a cocaine addict and it took all of his credibility apart from him.
Five Easy Pieces is the story of a musician from a wealthy family who has to work on oil-rigs away from the family he left. One day he learns that his father is very ill and decides to move back to make peace with the ones he abandoned. His existence is rhythmed by his excess of wrath, frustration and his impulsions. On the "mise en scène" I had a feeling like if I was watching a 1970's Ingmar Bergman film made in the US. Something like Autumn Sonata I guess. The colors have a brownish feel and the natural lighting gives to the story a "true" touch to it. Unlike many American films Five Easy Pieces has that gloss of real humans that can act like you and me and do good as to do bad. There's nothing black or white here and it gives somewhat a good vibe to the entire film.
The major flaws are that the film feels outdated and amateurish at moments. There are many errors of continuity and some takes give evidence of poor editing.
On the other side, Nicholson's acting elevates the quality of the film and once again he is on the top of his game.
Five Easy Pieces is a very good film from one of the most crucial eras of American filmmaking.