3 Women

Critics Consensus

3 Women is a strange, eerie portrait of late-'70s womanhood that upends and then defies all expectations.



Total Count: 30


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,831
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Movie Info

Robert Altman's Three Women takes a surreal, improvisational and rather eerie look at the lives of three women in a western desert town. The plot centers around the youngest of the women, Pinky (Sissy Spacek), an eccentric, withdrawn woman trying to begin a new life. She finds work as an attendant at a hot springs spa catering to the elderly and infirm. There she befriends her co-worker Millie (Shelley Duvall), an equally strange but more outgoing woman; the two bond, and are soon sharing an apartment. Pinky becomes increasingly dependent on Millie, eventually adopting aspects of her personality and appearance. This obsessive attachment is threatened when Pinky discovers Millie with a man -- Edgar (Robert Fortier), the macho, faux-cowboy husband of local artist Willie (Janice Rule), the last of the title's three women. Pinky's subsequent, desperate actions precipitate the film's enigmatic conclusion, involving an unexpected series of confrontations and role reversals amongst the three women. This story tends to take a backseat to the elliptical, spooky imagery, particularly the desert landscapes, and the quirky performances -- not surprising, given that the film was reportedly shot without a full screenplay and inspired by Altman's own dreams. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi


Critic Reviews for 3 Women

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (28) | Rotten (2)

  • The result is remarkable -- a semi-lucid, feverish tale of female relationships that disintegrates into a kind of woozy, oppressive madness.

    Jul 16, 2015 | Rating: 5/5

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Throughout, Duvall is brilliant: she coins a brand-new caricature of the confident yet clueless single female, then suggests a real person underneath.

    Dec 15, 2014 | Full Review…
  • Like a dream, it is most mysterious and allusive when it appears to be most precise and direct, when its images are of the recognizable world unretouched (as happens in the film from time to time) by camera filters or lab technicians.

    May 9, 2005 | Rating: 4/5
  • I have seen it many times, been through it twice in shot-by-shot analysis, and yet it always seems to be happening as I watch it. Recurring dreams are like that.

    Mar 5, 2005 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • A spectacular artistic success.

    Jun 4, 2004
  • A gauzy, perfectly executed vacation in Doppelgänger-burg.

    Jun 25, 2002

Audience Reviews for 3 Women

  • Apr 26, 2015
    3 Women is wonderfully strange. Inspired by a dream, it flows like one with Sissy Spacek plays a once in a lifetime role.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 03, 2014
    Wide-eyed Pinky (Sissy Spacek) latches onto delusional Millie (Shelly Duval) until an accident causes a radical personality shift. Fascinating, subtly unnerving psychological mystery that provides a bridge between PERSONA (1966) and LOST HIGHWAY (1997).
    Greg S Super Reviewer
  • Nov 24, 2012
    'She tries not to shatter, kaleidoscope style Personality changes behind her red smile Every new problem brings a stranger inside Heplessly forcing one more new disguise.'
    Stefanie C Super Reviewer
  • Sep 11, 2012
    "3 Women" has got to be the strangest contemporary film I've ever seen. It's hypnotic and surreal, dream-like and offbeat, plotless and unsettling. The length is frustrating at times when nothing seems to be happening, but it eventually plays out. Shelley Duvall and Sissy Spacek are both magnetic in their roles, each delivering nuanced, finely-tuned performances, but it's Robert Altman's direction that really fascinated me. Each scene is so handsomely executed and each shot is so perfectly framed that I cared less and less about the fact that there was nothing really going on.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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