Five Easy Pieces (1970) – I saw the inner me in Robert Dupea!

I always felt nobody could come close to Daniel Plainview as he has been the most relatable, an almost mirror reflection to my inner self. I was wrong and today I found my perplexed soul wandering aimlessly, in Robert Dupea’s body. Robert Dupea is perhaps one of the most underrated character portrayals which have never been given much acclaim. Portrayed by a scintillating, our crazy Jack Nicholson, who happens to be my favorite actor, the character is a rare, unique persona which could only touch a few souls in this universe. I am throughly delighted to realize I am one amongst the spoonful finding similarities with a directionless, disconcerted and an “unhappy with life” individual who has a galore of talent and privilege but still is an oddball of the community. Rather, a nutcase job should be depicted to exemplify the situation with more precision, Jack Nicholson here is indispensable on every frame of this masterclass feature presentation.

The day couldn’t have been any better. I have been busy interning since days, often times loosely interested at things, running away from responsibilities, being a disappointment and perfectly fitting the definition of basket case at times. “Five Easy Pieces” kept me off my work and engrossed me into a world governed by vagabonds, aimless wandering, and people entrapped with disgust and contempt. Failed relationships have crumbled us, search of happiness has put us in vain, over-expectations have turned lives into misery. What good things are we left with on this planet? The passionate ones are searching for answers, thus embarking on road-trips to find meanings. Choices, alternatives and options. These have provided “man” a few inevitable plans and so they later step outside the box in a search of identity or an exploration of what lies within. Let’s find out more about what the film tries to convey. It doesn’t portray itself easy and accessible as it seems and sounds with the title and plot.

In my personal view, 1970s was arguably the most quintessential decade to American cinematic history. It gave birth to most of the classics which we know today, including the likes of “The Godfather”, “Taxi Driver”, “A Clockwork Orange”, “Apocalypse Now”, “Barry Lyndon”, “Annie Hall” and many more. It’ll always be subjective, a thing of perennial importance as to why this Bob Rafelson feature presentation never recieved the appropriate attention and desired popularity as it was destined to. Do Indie films slowly fade away as soon as they escape the confines of their home country? Or is it far less comprehensive for global spectators to experience, visualize, relate and digest such manifestations? American culture is inadvertently diverse, subversively cold and often told, too direct in terms of human relationships and sentiments. There are several frames showcasing the background, a visual reality of the Southern American socio-cultural landscape. Here the director is direct when it comes to reaching and later embracing the sentiments of humans, although he is transparent with the American toxicity and mental corruption as highlighted in the film.

Bob Rafelson manages to capture broken hearts and torned souls by giving us a masterclass Jack Nicholson on screen. The film doesn’t only show us the toxic culture in downtrodden South and helplessness of people but encapsulates emotions and expresses what has not been said verbally. I am a wanderer too and I adore visualizing people quite like me. Coming to the technicalities now, the direction speaks everything about the pros here. No shot goes in vain, it captures everything with elegance and maintains this consistency throughout the film. The final shot is a symbol of unfathomable bravura done on screen. It leaves us standstill, contempt and flawlessly renders the tale about the “destiny of man”, and how uncertain things are in human travesty. Still we move on, take chances, and keep exploring options. Does it mean at the end of the day, we want to see ourselves treated differently? Is social acceptance crucially important? Thanks for not answering all our questions.

Furthermore, the other elements in the film are so well associated, personifies profound images and the juxtaposition with the theme is absolutely spot on. At times, I felt I was visualizing an Ingmar Bergman exploration on faith and family relationships as often times we observe the protagonist being elusive on aesthetics, finding semblance with a piano, and many other scenes where more attention has been given to what has not been spoken and discussed. A blazing masterpiece. I, Manan Mehta, contribute my token of respect for making me experience an honest, realistic depiction to perplexed life and undestined fate of humans. Feels like I am crucified to this day!

ACTING- 4.5/5

SCREENPLAY- 5/5

CINEMATOGRAPHY- 4/5

DIRECTION- 5/5

SCORE/SOUNDTRACK- 5/5

PACING/EDITING- 4/5

VERDICT- 4.5/5

Please do share your opinions about this 1970 classic too. I would love to know more thoughts coming in. It’s indeed a neverending topic.

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