3 Women Reviews
3 WOMEN introduces us to mostly to 2 women. We meet Pinky Rose (Sissy Spacek, only a year after CARRIE), a new nurse coming to work at a strange, dusty, underpopulated Southern California town in an old-folks convalescence home of some sort. There she meets Millie (Shelly Duvall), an experienced nurse assigned to show her the ropes. Pinky is delighted to be attached to Millie, because she has clearly taken a deep and intense interest in Millie. Millie talks almost non-stop and we see early on that she has alienated almost everyone around her with her incessant chatter and her self-delusion. She fancies herself a bit of party animal, a gal-about-town. In fact, everyone avoids her and all of the "dates" she thinks she might have never materialize. She's one of these people (we've all met them) who we feel sorry for, yet are so irritating to be around, we just hope someone else will befriend them. Pinky, however, sees none of that. She's from a small Texas town and is so deeply naïve that she clings to the "worldly" Millie and idolizes her. And slowly, she begins to obsess over her. And she pries into Millie's private life.
This doesn't sound all that interesting, and in many ways, it isn't. But writer/director Robert Altman is taking these two ladies on a strange psychological journey. What I've described is just the beginning. I don't want to tell you more, because it's all a bit open to interpretation, and if you decide to take the sometimes grueling journey that is 3 WOMEN, you should interpret for yourself. But one easy, even glib, description that comes to mind is to call the film an "artsy SINGLE WHITE FEMALE."
The film is full of Altman touches, particularly the improvised style of dialogue and the overlapping conversations. It is in these overlapping voices that we hear the mockery which most people shower directly on Millie. Millie is so eager for acceptance, to have even a hint that the life she imagines for herself is true, that she willingly endures derision in the hope of breaking through. I have to admit that I've never been a huge Shelley Duvall fan, but this is the best performance I've seen by her. She manages, at various times, to be touching, sad, laughable, irritating, competent, crazy. Altman often gives his female stars some really meaty roles to chew on, and he really did here. Spacek is also quite captivating. It's amazing she was ever able to break out of the crazy, naïve girl role after this film and CARRIE. She fits it to a tee...but as the film progresses, Pinky's character undergoes some unexpected transformations, and Spacek handles it all with ease.
I watched the Criterion Blu-Ray, and the picture quality was excellent. Filmed in the late `70s, the film has that unmistakable look of that era...a color palette that wants to be gritty and realistic and still retain some of the richness of Technicolor. The Blu-ray gets all that perfectly. The sound mix was excellent, but I have to say that the score for this film was literally the most annoying ever. I know that's not much of a useful comment, but I think my ears are still ringing from being stabbed by those awful sounds. The extras on the Blu-ray are a little skimpy, in my opinion, especially for a relatively modern film. There's a sparse commentary from Altman (which I only listened to pieces of), a brief essay that sheds little light on the film, and some trailers & stills. I would have LOVED to have heard a commentary from Duvall & Spacek.
It's hard to recommend this film. It moves slowly and it's very internalized. But a viewer with some patience may find some creepy rewards in watching the relationship between these two women (in two really fine performances) grow in unexpected and disquieting ways.
"3 Women" es una extraordinaria película que funge casi como un sueño en el cine. Con estupendas actuaciones y personajes inolvidables, es otro clasico de Robert Altman. Sumamente recomendable.
Back in noir times, Carol Reed intrigued us about who the third man was. Altman does the same now with women, but does not answer directly. The mystery is solved by itself.
What the heck did I just watch.... 0_o I am SOOO lost :p