3 Women Movie 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.


Comments

3 Women Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: PG, 1977

Editors Recommendations

No, AC/DC Are Not Splitting Up After All. Probably.

It looks like AC/DC fans can breathe a sigh of relief, because rumors of the band’s...

No, AC/DC Are Not Splitting Up After All. Probably.

Allergic Reaction To Blame For Miley Cyrus' Cancelled Tuesday Gig

Miley Cyrus has had it rough this week, as the star has been hospitalized for a severe allergic...

Allergic Reaction To Blame For Miley Cyrus' Cancelled Tuesday Gig

'Transcendence': Negative Reviews For Johnny Depp's 'Lone Ranger' Comeback

‘Transcendence’ is a stern Springtime test for Johnny Depp; the 50-year-old actor mooted...

'Transcendence': Negative Reviews For Johnny Depp's 'Lone Ranger' Comeback

Paul Walker's Brothers Brought In By Universal To Complete Late Actor's "Fast & Furious 7" Scenes

The team behind Fast & Furious 7 has come up with a untraditional solution to finish...

Paul Walker's Brothers Brought In By Universal To Complete Late Actor's

Game of Thrones' Jack Gleeson On Joffrey, Screen Deaths And His Indefinite Retirement

Let’s get the spoiler alert out of the way first: if you haven’t seen Season 4 Episode 2...

Game of Thrones' Jack Gleeson On Joffrey, Screen Deaths And His Indefinite Retirement

Why Did Nobody Watch The 'Mad Men' Season 7 Premiere?

We're not sure what everyone was watching on Sunday night, but the season seven premiere...

Why Did Nobody Watch The 'Mad Men' Season 7 Premiere?

The Next 'Breaking Bad'? 'Fargo' Ep. 1 Is A Must-See [Video]

New television series Fargo premiered last night on FX, giving American audiences...

The Next 'Breaking Bad'? 'Fargo' Ep. 1 Is A Must-See [Video]

Lindsay Lohan's Mother, Dina, Loses Driving Licence After Pleading Guilty To DUI

A member of the Lohan family has ran into trouble with the law, yet again...

Lindsay Lohan's Mother, Dina, Loses Driving Licence After Pleading Guilty To DUI

The First 'Gone Girl' Trailer is Weird And Different To Other Trailers

“I did not kill my wife!” exclaims Ben Affleck in the first official trailer for David Fincher’s...

The First 'Gone Girl' Trailer is Weird And Different To Other Trailers


More recommendations