Five Easy Pieces

In DVD/Blu-ray by Samuel Love

Nominated for four Academy Awards and five Golden Globes, Five Easy Pieces is an unforgettable drama from celebrated filmmaker Bob Rafelson that sees Jack Nicholson at his very best – and thanks to The Criterion Collection, finally makes its way to Blu-ray in the UK.

The film follows Robert Dupea (Nicholson), an oil rig worker who has rejected his cultured upper-class background. When he discovers his father (William Challee) is gravely ill, he returns home to his estranged family with his waitress girlfriend (Karen Black) in a trip that ultimately brings the two paths of his life to an uncomfortable intersection.

Following Nicholson’s breakout performance in Easy Rider, director Rafelson devised a leading role for the rising star that would go on to earn him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. His performance as Robert Dupea ranks among his best, with an understated and haunting portrayal of alienation and a life wasted that feels raw and affecting. A solid supporting cast also excel, but this is Nicholson’s film through-and-through. Critic Roger Ebert called Five Easy Pieces “one of the best American films” and “a masterpiece of heartbreaking intensity”, and it’s hard to put it any better than that.

This Blu-ray release from The Criterion Collection offers up the film in a stunning transfer supervised by DoP László Kovács with an uncompressed mono soundtrack, along with some fascinating special features including a 2009 documentary about the legendary film company BBS Productions that was birthed in the wake of Five Easy Pieces’ success.

One of the finest films of the 1970s, Five Easy Pieces is a powerful character study with a career-best performance from Jack Nicholson.