A desperate man risks everything to save his flagging business in director Bob Rafelson’s noir thriller. Deeply in debt and at odds with his wife (Judy Davis) and stepson, Alex Gates (Jack Nicholson) teams with amoral safecracker Victor Spansky (Michael Caine) to pinch an expensive diamond necklace with help from Alex’s miniskirted mistress (Jennifer Lopez). But the scheme goes awry when his alcoholic spouse inadvertently gets involved.
Bob Rafelson is a neglected director mainly because he lays bare the myths essential to America. He does not sugarcoat the bitter dose of his satire, as do Coppola and Altman. A distaste on the part of mainstream critics has caused attacks upon, but mostly the neglect of, Rafelson’s The King of Marvin Gardens , which is his most representative film. Head is bound by the conventions of the teenage-comedy genre and shows few marks of Rafelson’s authorship; Stay Hungry is a minor work that sustains his standard theme of the dropout—this time it is a Southern aristocrat who falls into the underworld, which is ambiguously mixed with the business world above. Something of a popular success, Five Easy Pieces certainly demands attention.
Five Easy Pieces was the first expression of the burned-out liberalism that was to become the hallmark of American films of the 1970s. Rafelson’s film expresses the intelligentsia’s dissatisfaction with its impotency in light of an overweening socio… read more