This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
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…
I admire Altman's craft, certainly, when he delivers images like Millie crossing a massive mural of mutated, naked human beings with their genitals askew and erect, their faces distorted in what looks to me like horror. Or when he shows just a bit of Millie's dress sticking out from her car door (the first image I needed to capture in this film) or Pinky's curled, broken form in the pool (or just before, standing up to the rail). Some of these evoke wonder, some horror, some just surreal desire (what can I say). But.
Well, before but. Everyone seems to talk about how the three women merge into one balanced being or whatever, but no one really seems to reflect…
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.
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…
the failure of an attempted escape from a self-replicating cycle of inherited behavior, a whirlpool of prescribed femininity, its transmission from generation to generation a form of psychological transference. Janice Rule fires bullet after bullet at a picture of a snake eating its own tail.
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.
Not going to pretend I have some deep insight into this film and all of it's meanings. This is one of those films that snuck up on me. The first half feels very different than the second half, but it informs the second half quite a bit. The ending left me wondering "what the heck is going on" trying to piece together what happened and trying to understand why the characters are acting the way they are. Anyway, thought the film was very mundane at first, then interesting, then the mindblowing. It's an art film that left an impression on me, also Sissy Spacek is riveting and gives an incredible performance.
Beguiling. The colours are beautiful.
It's Altman's Persona, so yeah, it's brilliant.
Just watched Altman's '3 Women' for the first time. One of his finest films. Pretty much impossible to find on DVD in Australia unless your prepared to buy a Criteron Collection copy somewhere. Streamed this on YouTube. Definitely Shelley Duvall's best performance of her career. Truly believe both her & Sissy Spacek were overlooked for Oscar nominations.
Opening it seems like a melodramatic Ingmar Bergman film with not much cheer. Ultimately this film becomes a very engrossing Pyschological drama with some mystery that never really gets resolved. Shelley Duvall is so good in this film my favourite performance by her now it seems.
Great film deserving of classic status
This movie was based on a dream and that's obvious.
I was one step behind 3 Women. No prediction I made came to fruition. Upon reflection, I was fooled by the elements of normalcy. Such that the ending felt like a curveball. At first viewing, Pinkie is a poor ingenue obsessed with Millie's seemingly idyllic life. To the point that she wants to become her.
This could have resolved into horror, as Pinkie steals Millie's identity. But the reconciliation with Willie and with Edgar recasts the identity theft as something more symbolic. As if Pinkie and Millie were actually one all along. As if…
4 out of 5 (B+)
Movies that are slightly off.