samarthbhaskar’s review published on Letterboxd:
My first Robert Altman, and what a one to start with. I find it hard to believe that the same final plot turn would pass in a contemporary film, but that's perhaps because it has been over used. Maybe in 1977 that idea wasn't as worn out yet.
I think this is at once a very feminist film and also has a strong male gaze underneath it all. The main characters, Pinky and Millie, were building an independent life for themselves. They talked about men, yes, but I didn't get the feeling that they couldn't survive if men weren't around. However, the odd moments of sexual tension, Millie's infatuation with men, the strong character archetypes that the 3 women represent in the beginning - all those things seem to me emanating from a man's mind. I wonder how a woman would try to show the same thing.
This film is born in water and dies in water. The opening scene brings together birth and death in the same small pool. Water is, again, the catalyst of change when Pinky has her accident. The fluidity of water is present in the fluidity of identities in this film.
Praise and adulation also belong to Duvall and Spacek who are asked to play multiple and entirely different characters in the same film - and are able to pull it off without a hitch.
But, ultimately, I think responsibility for this film lies with writer and director Robert Altman. He accomplished something very difficult - he made a film that stands on its own as fact and wrapped in logic (ok maybe minus the last 10 minutes) but the whole time is clearly about way more than that.