Jack Nicholson is a wonderful actor, but since the early 1970s, virtually all of his performances have been variations of Jack playing Jack. This is not to say that he has not been terrific doing this, but there is a distinct impression that there hasn't been much of a stretch in his acting since Chinatown. Not so with Five Easy Pieces - Nicholson completely loses himself in the character of Bobby Dupee, and gives what is arguably his best performance ever. What's more, the film, which opened in 1970, depicts better than any other film the alienation of the generation of the late 1960s-early 1970s. Nicholson's Bobby Dupee is a talented classical musician who comes from a family of talented classical musicians. He has, however, chosen to deny his past by living (one might almost say "hiding") with his girl friend, Rayette (a terrific Karen Black) among blue collar workers. The bulk of the film centers on Bobby's return home to visit his father, who has suffered a stroke, and the interaction of Bobby (and Rayette) with various members of the household. Nicholson's acting talent was never more apparent than in the scene where he is out walking with his wheel-chair bound father and tries to explain why he has chosen the path he has taken. The scene has an improvisational quality, and Nicholson is both natural and moving. It is a moment that can stand with anything he has done since.
58 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?