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|Index||83 reviews in total|
This is exactly what the film is about. Someone who doesn't really know
who they are-yet. Someone who is desperately seeking someone to pattern
their life after. Who is your inspiration? Who is your idol? If you
have no one and are in an area where there are few inspiring people
then you pick the least threatening. And this is sort of what the story
is about. Someone who is a blank slate and looking to fill in the
space. Excellent film! I've watched it probably 50 times in my life. It
is fascinating with low key performances by Sissy Spacek and Shelly
Millie is always walking behind people talking at them, and she thinks
everyone likes her, but most people just ignore her or make fun of her
behind her back. Pinky thinks she's just about the best person she's
I thought I would just put this on for a minute to see what it was like, but I literally couldn't turn it off. People say this, but its hardly ever happened to me. This movie cast a spell over me.
Altman is a fascinating filmmaker and this is probably my favourite movie of his so far. Its beautifully shot, with a dreamlike quality, and the characters Shelley and Cissy play are so adorable they just draw you in. Actors own their parts because of just how much free rein Altman gives them, and it happens to really gel with these actors.
The film is ambiguous, and I'm not entirely sure what happened in the second half, but its not what I expected to happen. There is a sinister undercurrent to the film which is highlighted by the music, but doesn't manifest in the particular kind of plot developments you might guess. So its unpredictable and mysterious, which I loved, but your mileage may vary.
The two main characters, both named Mildred have emigrated from Texas to a small dusty Californian town off the highway that could pass for Texas -- the younger Mildred remarks, "Sure does look like Texas". The attention- seeking, loquacious Mildred #1, alias "Millie" (Shelley Duvall) struts around like a yellow canary on stage reminding me of Norma Desmond from Sunset Blvd with the same lack of self awareness. Obviously imitating what she's sees in the glamor magazines she reads. The clumsy naive Mildred #2, alias "Pinky" (Sissy Spacek) who's even more clueless mistakes Millie's bravado as confidence immediately becoming her sycophant says she is "the most perfect person I've met" until an unexpected turn of events challenges their fan-idol relationship and their identities. It is a final crisis that resolves their "identity crisis" in the end involving a third women, Willie (Janice Rule), an artist that paints a mural with groupings of reptilian anthropomorphic beasts that include a pregnant female (like herself) and an alpha male standing erect with his huge "cock" (maybe blurred in some copies) which I presume represents her cock sure husband and possibly lover to the pair of Mildreds. This very surreal film some what of a black tragicomedy (if you can force it into a genre at all) evolved from a dream director, Robert Altman had, so don't expect a nice neat traditional Hollywood ending. I loved the film! One of his best IMO. It explores the female psyche so well, its hard for me to believe a male developed this from his own dream. The film is also a time capsule from the 70s. Millie loves the color yellow, drives a "French" mustard colored Pinto ( not to be confused with English mustard, she corrects the cops as they look for her stolen car) and has an apartment decorated in a combination of slick mod and lacy kitschy furnishing, all in yellow. Lots of double knit halters and peasant blouses fill her closet, all in yellow, of course. This cult classic is worth viewing just for the trip back to the groovy years. Would someone please comment about the reptilian art? Who was actual the artist?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Robert Altman's 3 WOMEN (1977) with Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek & Janice Rule, has remained my all-time favourite picture since I accidentally caught in on the Z-channel at 3 in the morning back when I was like 13... It remains Altman's least trademark work, filled with lots of non-sequitors, a very dream-like logic and structure, hints of surrealism, absurdism & devastating tragedy, one of the most original motion picture musical scores of all time (by Gerald Busby) and unquestionably Shelley Duvall's strongest, most moving and engaging performance of her entire career, it is also her single starring role... and the films ending segment, which ends in the strictly impressionistic, ambivalent surprise of Altman quietly 'pulling the rug out from underneath you', for my money perfectly compliments the rest of the film by slyly leaving everything you have just seen (and any of it's possible vague inflections about the human experience, and how and whatever any of the film intended to represent or comment on) completely and 100% up to your own personal interpretation... just as Donald Cammell's equally brilliant PERFORMANCE (1970) also succeeded in portraying and also shares practically the exact same deus-ex-machina of it's last final frames of film as does this largely unheralded, bona- fide Altman masterpiece, which has only managed to gain an incredible amount of momentum and word-of-mouth acceptance as the grand old dame of 1970's art house cinema of which it truly is.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm still discovering Robert Altman's films, and after a few deceptions
(not so much because those I watched were bad movies, but because I had
high expectations), this one was a nice surprise. It's a movie that
could only have been made in the 70's, it's one of a kind. From the few
popular movies Shelley Duvall has been in, this is one of her finest. I
couldn't help but smile when she says "What's the matter, haven't you
ever seen twins?". Sissy Spacek is easier to catch on screen, she's
also great in this.
As of the amazing performances, we're introduced to a dreamy like California scenery, there's nothing unusual about those two words in the same sentence, but the atmosphere is almost ethereal, from the pastel colors to the apathetic people all around. I kept thinking if they did that just to spite Millie or because they simply wouldn't bother to listen to anyone. Millie's situation is so anguishing, it's really similar to one of those dreams where we talk and talk but people don't seem to notice, like we're ghosts. I know the character wasn't near being pleasant, but I felt sorry for her frustrated social efforts just the same.
I had no idea what the film was actually about when I started watching it, and as Pinky's obsession with Millie developed, I figured it was going to be a very well plotted drama, or something like it. That it is, but it's something else, too. If we pay attention, from the start, there's a strange feeling lurking about, like something's not entirely right...or real. It's no coincidence that Pinky's real name is Mildred, which is also short for Millie (also, Willie...), and both women seem to enter some sort of fusion, there's something that ties them together. Besides, there's another woman, of enigmatic behavior, her importance is revealed further along. For now, all we know is that she paints those exotic printings inside the pool. As of Pinky's accident, which might as well be related to those paintings, she suffers a drastic change of heart, now she IS Millie.
It's not revealed to us whether her accident caused her some kind of neurological damage or the beginning of some kind of mental illness...but I'm not so fond of these realistic explanations, not coming from a movie like this. Especially because it wouldn't explain that last scene, where the three women appear to have reached some sort of weird organization, featuring different generations...perhaps they're supposed to be one? I'm not sure of the meaning for the metaphor, all I know is that it's a very intriguing movie, giving us a lot to think about at the end, and it sure is an interesting story about what the experience of being a woman means.
Mildred 'Pinky' Rose is a (very) young girl from Texas who tries her
luck in sunny California. She finds a job at a geriatric institution
where she meets Millie Lammoreaux. Millie looks so confident that the
heavy insecure Pinky soon sees her as a role model. This becomes creepy
soon when Pinky tries to become Millie. In fact Millie is a lonely and
insecure woman who hides her uncertainties behind constant babble. She
becomes annoyed with Pinky and treats her very rude. So rude that Pinky
tries to commit suicide. She is in a coma for a couple of days and when
she wakes up she has taken over the personality of Millie including her
That's the main storyline of this movie but not the whole story. This movie is more about mood and atmosphere than it is about a plot. In fact Robert Altman worked out the film without a full script and he wasn't sure about how to end the story. The atmosphere is what makes this film a beautiful and sometimes creepy travel through the minds of the three women. There are long sequences of the paintings from Willie, the third woman. And there is a frightening dream sequence which shows a nightmare that Pinky experienced.
In fact the three women are tied by a male: Edgar Hart, the husband of Willie who owns a saloon and the apartment where Millie and Pinky share a room. While his wife is pregnant he sleeps with Millie and when Pinky is transformed into Millie he easily switches his attentions. So the only male in this story with an important role is portrayed as an absolute cheater and loser.
The film suffers under the fact that it isn't made with a worked-out script. While the title is 3 women the film is only centered on Millie and Pinky and the character of Willie doesn't come forward very clear. There is hardly any interaction between her and the two other women and it seems she only communicates with them through her paintings (especially with Pinky). Then there is the role of the twins who also work at the institution. They are mentioned a lot in the film and you see a lot of shots of them. You expect that they should play an important role but this part of the plot is never worked out.
What about the two main characters? It's hard to identify with them. Millie is an irritant female who seems to never shut her mouth and bothers people who are not interested in her. The reason for this is that she is so lonely that she intrudes in other peoples lifes and as a consequence is ignored by them. Pinky seems to be a very shy girl without real knowledge of society but she has a hidden agenda. The way she tries to imitate Millie shows thoroughness. When her parents are shown you understand she comes from a rural background and was most probably withdrawn from all experiences young women have in their teens. Her head injuries after her suicide attempt transform her in a sexual loaded woman who knows all the tricks to seduce men. But when there are stressful moments she immediately becomes the shy country girl as portrayed in the first half of the film.
I think 3 women could have been a masterpiece if Altman hadn't got this image of what this movie would become already in his head before he starts shooting. For the director the sequences are much more important than a worked-out plot and in the end the film suffers underneath his vision. But he managed very well to create this dreamlike and creepy atmosphere which makes this movie more than just a psychological drama. As a viewer you feel the tension when Pinky intrudes the life of Millie and as this movie seems to become a story about a stalker the roles are exchanged and you start to feel sorry for Millie who has an enormous guilt about what happened to Pinky. Then there is the dream sequence and the child-bearing of Willie which is filmed so intense that I was shivering watching this scene. Still I'm left with the feeling that so much more could have been made with this plot.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In 3 Women, Robert Altman paints a portrait of loneliness that manages
to disturb, amuse, puzzle and sadden the viewer. Altman wrote the
screenplay himself and builds the action on mundane situations: an
awkward young woman, Pinky (Sissy Spacek) starts working at a spa and
becomes obsessed with a fellow worker, Millie (Shelley Duvall).
Circumstances lead the two to share a room, allowing us to have a peek
at the emptiness and pointlessness of their lives. There's not much of
a story here, mostly illustrations of disturbing, embarrassing scenes
that should ring true to anyone that spends time with people on a daily
Pinky and Millie have two different personalities. Pinky seems to have trouble making friendships, lies about her past and develops a fixation for Millie, perhaps because Millie was the only person who showed some kindness or gave her any attention on her first day on the job.
Millie, like Pinky, is lonely, but whereas Pinky seems comfortable with it, Millie can't seem to bear it. She's always trying to get dates, she has problems with rejection; and when Pinky shacks up with her, she tries to impress the gullible woman by showing herself as popular and cool with people at work or with her neighbours. In fact, for all the chatter that comes out of Millie's mouth, no one pays any attention to her or says anything to her, except a bored 'yeah', if she's lucky.
Shelley Duvall, whom I know only from The Shinning and whom everyone calls a horrible actress, steals the show as Millie. It's no surprise Spacek can act, she's one of the finest actresses to emerge from the '70s. But Duvall shines here as the silly, arrogant, deluded Millie.
What makes Millie so fascinating is that she's instantly recognisable: we see people like every day, we know people like her, and - heaven help us - we have a bit of her in us too. Although the movie is dreamy, enigmatic and eschews simple answers, its characters are rooted in realism.
I'm not a big fan of Robert Altman, but having watched this movie and Images back to back, I can say I'm beginning to admire him at last.
So I watched 1977's dream flick "3 women", by the late great Robert Altman. This movie stars both Shelly Duvall and Sissy Spacek, both who won awards for their acting in this film. So is this movie good, yes if you like the surreal (which I do). Is it a classic, I say yes but of cult status only. This is not a mainstream movie. Even for Altman this movie is out there. This is not one of his typical dialog driven smart comedy. It is a flick about images, ideas, and things that are open for interpretation. Including the end which Altman himself said he was not quite sure he understood. The inspiration for this film was in fact a dream Altman had. This film starts out seemingly normal but slowly morphs into a dream, becoming stranger and stranger with each passing scene. I recommend this movie for indy lovers and art lovers. I am not sure many others would appreciate the rather intellectual high art concept of this film. Watching this movie with friends may be the best way to go, with the right group this film could inspire a deep philosophical and existential debate. if you like concise reviews of interesting films please read my other reviews at http://raouldukeatthemovies.blogspot.com/
I remember first seeing this film on the A&E channel in the late 1980's. It
grabbed my attention from the beginning and I ended up watching the whole
Even though much of the film is deliberately meant to be ambiguous, I found it to be fascinating. I always interpreted it as a film about insecurity and the desire for the characters to be different people than what they really are. The Shelly Duvall character (Millie) is a nice person but she is not the social butterfly that she desperately wants to be. Despite Millies' delusions about herself, the Sissy Spacek character wants to be just like Millie because she seems to have no personality of her own. The Edgar character wants to be a tough guy/cowboy, but in reality is a burned-out drunk. I'm still somewhat confused as to how the Janice Rule character fits into the whole scheme.
This is one of the few films where you feel like you're watching real people and not just actors portraying people. It's amazing how a movie like "Charlie's Angels" which has three gorgeous females in it and a ton of action can be so boring, yet a movie like "3 Women" with three average looking females and almost no action can be so interesting.
Despite the bizarre ending (which I still don't fully understand). This is an excellent film.
Revisiting Robert Altman's 3 Women a quarter-century after its release is
more than an exercise in nostalgia. The movie's worst faults -- its oneiric
aimlessness, its pretensions toward some sort of feminist metaphysics --
seem really not to matter that much. And its best parts -- Shelly Duvall
and Sissy Spacek and the interplay between them -- have stayed fresh as new
paint. Has either of these actresses ever surpassed the natural, intuitive
work Altman here inspired them to produce? These two-girls-sharing cook up
a relationship as messy and powerful as lovers.
Duvall, the clueless airhead who nonetheless gives herself airs, discovers an almost aching pathos when she finds Spacek slipping away from her. The ingrown, dependent Spacek seems to have been raised in a colony of sponges; when she starts reddening her lips and nails, and returning Duvall's haughty contempt, she's frightening and feral. Sharp as the comedy in 3 Women is, it bespeaks an almost insupportable sadness, so when Altman shifts into the minor mode and commences playing fortissimo, it's redundant, and a miscalculation. He's already shown us all there is to see. The rest is just obscurantist mood-spinning.
Note to film buffs: the actor playing Spacek's elderly dad is John Cromwell (also the bishop in Altman's A Wedding), the director of Dead Reckoning, Caged, and The Racket.
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