3 Women

"Excellent"

3 Women Review


When remembering 3 Women, many viewers mistakenly recall it as being titled 2 Women. That's understandable (though it's a different movie), because the third woman in question (Janice Rule) is barely present in the film and has no intelligible lines.

Welcome to Robert Altman's personal nightmare (literally, he came up with the story in a dream), a tale of identity and personality, and the cascading way that cliques work, even in the smallest of groups.

The film opens as we're introduced to Pinky (Sissy Spacek), a new arrival in a California desert town, where she is on her first day on the job at an old-folks spa. Here she quickly befriends Millie (Shelley Duvall), who strikes awe in Pinky due to her ostensible worldliness and sophisticated ways. We see through Millie immediately, of course. She's a blatant wannabe who mimics others and copies ideas (and awful recipes) out of fashion magazines. Everyone else in the movie sees through her too: She's ignored even when she speaks directly to people, her party guests never arrive, and her plans for "hot dates" invariably end up with her going to the local dive bar -- which offers dirt bike racing and a gun range out back.

While Millie is initially pleased to have a sycophant who copies her every move (and moves into her apartment), even this wears thin. It isn't long before Spacek's juvenile wallflower starts to embarrass even Millie, whether she dumps red sauce all over her house dress or pours salt into a mug of beer to watch it foam up before downing it. After a night when everything goes wrong, Millie gets sick of the childishness, and goads her into moving out. Pinky immediately leaps from the balcony and ends up in a coma.

At this midpoint in the film, everything goes haywire. Wracked with guilt, Millie cares for Pinky at the hospital, tracking down her parents and caring for her daily needs. When she finally comes to, Pinky can't remember much -- including her folks or, it seems, her old personality. Suddenly, Pinky is a domineering "modern gal," while Millie now plays the rube.

The end result is a film far more reminiscent of Polanski than Altman and stands as one of his most underseen but most compelling works. Altman plops us into this crazy dream and doesn't let up. It's at once hyper-realistic and eerily out there, dragging you through "this can't be happening" moments that nonetheless come across with an uncanny sense of realism. Spacek and Duvall are both deliciously uncomfortable to watch, and together they make Altman's case in full: The cascading effect of the way cliques and popularity work has never been done with more depth or with sharper teeth.

The only real flaw with the film is an unfortunate oboe score that is ear-mangling in its cacophony. It not only dates the production to the '70s, in its loudest moments it gets positively grating. There's plenty of that going on without turning the music loose on us.

Now on Criterion DVD, the film benefits from an Altman commentary track. Highly recommended.

Aka Three Women.



3 Women

Facts and Figures

Run time: 124 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 25th May 1977

Budget: $1.5M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Lions Gate Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 23 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Mildred "Millie" Lammoreaux, as Pinky Rose, as Willie Hart, as Edgar Hart, as Mrs. Rose, as Mr. Rose, Sierra Pecheur as Ms. Bunweill, Craig Richard Nelson as Doctor Maas, Maysie Hoy as Doris, Belita Moreno as Alcira, Leslie Ann Hudson as Polly, Patricia Ann Hudson as Peggy, Beverly Ross as Deirdre Ross, John Davey as Doctor Norton

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.