3 Women (Robert Altman – 1977) A-

Set in the California desert the whole film feels bleached and parched and…hazy. The young teenager Pinky (Sissy Spacek) just moved there and is getting a job at a physical therapy spa for old people. She meets the person who is tasked with training her, Millie (Shelley Duval) and is instantly mesmerized and seemingly obsessed with the personality Millie projects. She talks incessantly about herself, her dates, her taste in food, booze, wardrobe and decorating. Duvall delivers an amazing performance here. Everyone, including us can see how annoying Millie is and they either avoid her or humor her. Pinky though, she seems to hang on every word Millie says. She moves in with her and then something happens. The movie and characters, especially Pinky, seem to shift. Spacek starts playing Pinky as the dominant in the Pinky-Millie dynamic. She almost takes over Millie. It instantly reminded me of the great Bergman film Persona. Also a film about the relationship between 2 women and a movie where it literally burns in the middle and things change. Not surprisingly Altman cited Persona as an inspiration to 3 Women. The third woman? I have not mentioned her much. This would be Willie (Janice Rule). She spends her time drawing sexually graphic murals of monsters and gods. She is the wife of the letch who owns the apartment complex where Pinky and Millie rent. He also owns the bar they go to. Willie does not have a ton to say in the movie and is almost like from a different time or universe. She’s the observer or the oracle of the story. It’s a hypnotic movie. A strange one that I did not expect and most likely needs another viewing at some point.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s