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3 Women
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by Dr. Isaksson

"Altman's amazing film about 3 Women"
5 stars

Robert Altman didn't have much success with 1977's "3 Women". A film about exactly that, three women. Doesn't sound like much of a story but Altman really delivers a masterpiece... ~1 woman became 2/2 women became 3/3 women became 1~

Robert Altman said that 3 Women was based on his dreams. This is understandable because 3 Women plays just like a dream. Hazy, slow, quiet, oddly interesting and slightly confusing.

The film stars Millie Lammoreaux (Shelley Duvall), a talkative though somewhat lonely physical therapist living in very dry looking Palm Springs Califonia motel. Millie is self assured and very ordered and also seems to enjoy her job even though none of the other women there talk to her. She talks to them and they only nod or wander past. In fact, in the beginning of the film Millie does a lot of talking and yet nobody seems to want to listen. She goes to the local bar and the men there just kind of look past her. She'll offer up a topic and nobody ever really offers a reply. All of this leaves the door open for the viewer to really get a feeling the kind of person Millie is and the kind of exsistence she has. It's actually a wonderfully tricky technique on Altman's part becuase you realize later that he's shown you what it's like to be ignored without anyone claiming that they are lonely.

On the whole, Millie seems oblivious to her singular life. She continues to live with easy going solitude until one day she meets a girl named Pinky Rose, (Sissy Spacek) Pinky is young, naive, and somewhat shy. Pinky has begun working at the same place as Millie. After a meeting there, Millie suddenly notices that when she speaks to this girl Pinky, Pinky listens. She does not always answer Millie but she listens in her own quiet and awkward way. They go to the bar and talk to the men and life gets a little more interesting. The two move in together and at last, Millie has someone to tell all of her insiprations to. Her ideal way of living that she gathered in the pages of "Good Housekeeping."

As the movie flows on, we meet a third woman Willie, (Janice Hart) who is very quiet and very eccentric. She is painting a huge dragon-like thing in her pool and likes to dress in long layered robes. Here is where Altman begins to turn up the wierd factor, even bringing in some odd music while showing you the painting of the dragon in the empty pool. This kind of strange dragon figure image comes back to us a couple of times in the film, for what reason? I have no clue. Altman somehow keeps such a strong hold on you that as the film reaches it's midpoint, where Pinky begins to emulate Millie, almost totally assuming Millie's personality, you're not that surprised. It begins to feel like a normal progression. Robert Altman does make his film feel a little like a knockoff of Ingmar Bergman's Persona, a story where women begin to trade off personalities. However, Altman makes 3 Women unique by stamping it with a very different style that is all his own.

Shelley Duvall deservedly received a best actress nod from the 'New York Film Critics' for her portrayl of Millie and the great Sissy Spacek was honored by the same critics as well for best supporting actress. The two are mesmerizing in their roles, (much of which was improvised.) Altman has stated that he had no real script for 3 Women and this only adds credit to the steller preformances.

Not all films need to take us on a big emotional train ride to get the viewer to notice something great. 3 Women let's us transport our thoughts somewhere unique and unthought of. If you don't catch the film's true meaning and are expecting a conventional narrative, you will probably be a little lost. But if you really let yourself be led into this brilliant dream of a film, it will be an viewing experience that will leave you thinking long and hard about the human exsistence. 3 Women is an absolutley stunning work.

P.S. The film has been issued on DVD! Go get it!

There is dream-like quality that invades Robert Altman's "3 Women." Everything here seems a little unreal. Even the most ordinary places we are taken to in this film are captured with an untelling elusiveness. ***** 5 Stars

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1696&reviewer=296
originally posted: 01/26/02 17:15:58
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User Comments

7/26/13 Fire With Fire Altman's "Bergman" film,but,natch,badly filmed & acted,murky,and overpraised. 1 stars
4/04/08 Carol Baker What's going on. Can't figure it out. 2 stars
10/09/07 mr.mike oddly watchable 4 stars
6/27/04 cavu@bellsouth.net Great acting: Yes! Pointless: Yes! Boring: Mostly! Worth watching: No! 1 stars
4/19/04 Tim Hatcher Watch it for the journey, not the destination. Engrossing, haunting, fascinating, unique. 5 stars
4/01/04 re a great film 5 stars
3/11/04 etienne extraordinary ! 5 stars
2/09/04 Jerome Twenty-five years later, this film remains vivid and evocative 5 stars
8/22/02 brandon quinn My all-time favorite motion picture! And I Like ALOT of Movies! 5 stars
8/06/02 I Can't Swim Saw this when it came out, 125 yrs ago, and never forgot it 5 stars
3/21/02 Tim Hatcher One of few films I will watch repeatedly. Mesmerizing. Not on VHS yet, damn it. 5 stars
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  02-Feb-1977 (PG)


  02-Jul-1977 (PG)

Directed by
  Robert Altman

Written by
  Robert Altman

  Shelley Duvall
  Sissy Spacek
  Janice Rule
  Robert Fortier
  Ruth Nelson
  John Cromwell

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