Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
1 woman became 2/2 women became 3/3 women became 1
Pinky is an awkward young teen who starts work at a spa in the CA. Desert. She becomes overly attached to fellow spa attendant, Millie when she becomes Millie's roommate. Mille is a lonely outcast who desperately tries to win attention with constant upbeat chatter. They hang out at a bar owned by a strange pregnant artist and her has-been cowboy husband. After each of 2 emotional crises, the three woman steal and trade each other's personalities until they settle into a new family unit that seems to give each woman what she was searching for.
Born from a dream and sharing the same inconsistent logic, Robert Altman’s 3 Women is a strange and elusive drama exploring the transitory nature of identities. Although best known for his narratively complex ensemble dramas it is Altman’s experimental chamber pieces that provide some of his most interesting work.
As the title implies, 3 Women, is centred on the complicated and shifting relationships between three women in the Californian desert. Sissy Spacek stars as the naive Pinky, a young woman from Texas who becomes obsessed with her colleague and roommate, Millie (Shelley Duvall). Millie is a woman with a deluded sense of confidence who is blindly ignored by all those around her. The third woman in this triumvirate is Janice…
A lot of Altman's films feel like dreams to me but this was the only one literally based on one. It is also the one that by the end, appears unfinished, like all dreams, but still feels like a full journey has been taken. Altman received the green light from 20th Century Fox without a finished screenplay, only the dream idea and who would play the leads. Further evidence of how much influence was turned over to these rule-breaking maverick filmmakers in the 70s. Makes modern studio output look like the nightmarish comittee-approved, watered down, juvenile-marketed, Twilight Zoney counter-universe that we all know it has become.
I sort of wish the film ended at the 'dream' sequence. Altman remains perfectly ambiguous until then, and even had he not resolved the mystery, there would have been more than enough to draw one's own conclusions from it. It's in those final 10 minutes that the film becomes erratic and incoherent. Like Lost Highway, making sense doesn't seem to Altman's motive; but unlike Lynch's piece, the way Altman lays out the rest of the film seems to suggest it's leading somewhere concrete, leaving its resolution unfulfilling, vague, and virtually unknowable.
However, that's merely a fraction of the picture. The rest, following the eerie relationship shared between Duvall and…
I cannot begin to fathom, let alone fashion, a proper response to such pure cinematic poetry. As with seeing STRAW DOGS and KING LEAR before it, here is another of those all too terribly rare lucid viewing experiences. Discovering this film tonight, on 35mm, makes me feel confident that more or less waiting to thoroughly investigate Robert Altman's work by way of UCLA's very near-complete retrospective is a kind of incredible (if incidental) fortune. I'll also never forget the nameless man in tonight's audience who suddenly stood up during the film's final reel, as if unable to sit, and never sat back down until the end credits. It may be nothing, it may remain unexplained, but part of me feels as if the film elicited such an intense kinesthetic response (discomfort? terror? confusion?) that - for this man - sitting was simply not an option.
I was not ready for what I just watched. A seemingly innocent tale about two roommates who don't get along turns into a weird, near psychological horror.
There are some sequences in this movie that totally throw you off (in a good way of course). It's slow but never boring. I think that's mostly due to the fact that Shelley Duvall and Sissy Spacek are both excellent. It's a pretty quiet character study for the majority of the film and then it turns and gets dark and awesome.
Not much to add to my Time Out New York review, written for its Film Forum run in 2002, back when there was still no DVD. I've seen this three times now and on both repeat viewings it's turned out to be much weirder and more impervious to analysis than I remembered. That's mostly a good thing.
An insert provided with the DVD of Mulholland Drive offers "David Lynch's ten clues to unlocking this thriller," directing confused viewers to "notice appearances of the red lampshade" and "pay particular attention to the beginning of the film." Robert Altman's 3 Women—a tour de force of dream logic set in Southern California, involving two young women whose identities shift like tectonic…
Somehow even more unsettling than Persona or Mulholland Drive as it has the same relative banality in both halves, and presents us with answers before yanking them away from us with another digression. Brilliant when it isn't outright maddening.
Haunting and heartbreaking story with great performances from Duvall and Spacek. Definitely one of the most surreal movies I've seen. Moves around like a genuine dream.
It feels like a character study throughout the film; build the characters one way, then skew them off in a different direction as they craft new roles and identities. The simple explanations make for an interesting movie. But details don't quite jive with the simplicity, leading to considering more complicated view of the film. I can't claim to really know everything that is going on--especially not after one viewing. But if you like character studies with a slow thinker film, 3 Women makes for a very intriguing view.
More evidence that I have underestimated Robert Altman for too long. Why have I only seen three of his movies? This tale of women and their societal roles is excellent, trippy and fully of great imagery with two brilliant performances by Sissy Spacek and Shelly Duvall. I feel that more than any other American director of the 70's, Altman really understood societal structures and how to explore them with ease and creativity. Rarely has a gun range been so poetic.
"Do you take the pill?"
I don't think an exhaustive examination of Altman's motives and his imagery in 3 Women would prove a particularly fruitful exercise. Much of it probably resides in his subconscious. But his effort towards visualizing a dream - centered on desert outsiders cohabiting on the fringes of what most deem as "regular" society - is incredibly rewarding nonetheless. It's a complete, original vision. Duvall and Spacey really raise the stakes with beautiful performances.
Robert Altman’s 3 Women was an eerie psychological drama made with ambition that from the very beginning was very weird, though in a very subtle way that some people might easily miss. Largely due to a haunting and creepy musical score, and also because of its recurring visual motifs, this film had a terrifying and ghastly atmosphere that made it totally arresting.
Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall were magnificent in the roles of Pinky and Millie. The first one was child-like, awkwardly mysterious and sometimes indecipherable, while the second one was a lonely common young woman that was a bit snobbish. Apart from them two, there was a third woman called Willie (played by Janice Rule), who was seemingly mute…
- 12 Angry Men
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- 25th Hour
- 3 Women
- Only God Forgives
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- Spring Breakers
- A Field in England
Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
- A Page of Madness
- Un Chien Andalou
- L'âge d'or
- Meshes of the Afternoon
A big collection of films that might be considered as strange, mindfucking, surreal and weird. Sorted by year. Suggestions are…