Robert, or Bobby to most, seems like your average blue collar drifter. He works the oil fields, hangs out at the bowling alley, in his friend’s trailer and with his white trash girlfriend. He’s rough talking, sarcastic and doesn’t seem to respect anyone. You’d never imagine a guy like that coming from an upper-class household full of concert musicians.
Played by Jack Nicholson, Bobby hasn’t been home in about three years. It’s suggested that there’s a general falling out between him and his father, but that’s never dwelled upon. He’s visiting because his father has suffered multiple strokes, the end may be near. With his sister being a professional pianist and his brother a classical violinist, Bobby is the black sheep who threw away his once promising musical career.
The two sides of Bobby’s life seem to be portrayed by two types of music: classical piano and country. The country songs, mostly by Tammy Wynette, are the soundtrack to Bobby’s new life he’s found for himself down south. They also seem to be the choice of his pea-brained girlfriend, Rayette. The classical piano plays when Bobby is faced with family matters or in his childhood home.
One of my favorite scenes nearly combines the two music personalities. Bobby and his coworker are stuck in traffic with horns blaring. Bobby gets fed up and gets out of the car to yell at everyone. He climbs into the back of a truck to find a piano in the back and proceeds play it (even though it’s horribly out of tune). It seems even in the hot southern sun Bobby cannot escape his musical past, even when antics that can only be pulled off by Nicholson come to play.
My big problem with Five Easy Pieces is that I wasn’t sure where the heart of the story was for too long. Like driving two days for a weekend getaway, I questioned if his time at home would be worth it. There was so much time spent down south, and then the car ride was such a long journey, I was starting to wonder if the destination was important at all. It’s only there that we discover who Bobby really is, the good, bad and everything.
I really enjoyed this film, but my husband curled up and fell asleep because, “Nothing was happening.” Fair enough, it wasn’t the most eventful movie. But it’s got the heart, the drama, and an interesting character that Nicholson was born to play. Take it or leave it, it’s much better than Love Story.
“I move around a lot, not because I’m looking for anything really, but ’cause I’m getting away from things that get bad if I stay.”