12 October 2008 | sonya90028
Avant-guard film about female friendships.
Three Women was another Robert Altman masterpiece. His films have always deeply explored the frailties, of the human personality. And Three Women is typical of Altman's deftness, regarding intense characterizations.
This film takes place in the late 70s, in a remote California town. It revolves around three very different female characters, and the effects that each of them has on each other's lives.
Shelley Duvall is cast as Millie. Millie is an intensely garrulous woman. She's obsessed with talking about recipes, that she garners from women's magazines. She annoys those around her, with her constant chatter about her 'latest recipe'.
Millie also desperately wants to impress her male acquaintances. Men seem to mostly shun Millie though, which doesn't stop her from trying to gain their attention.
Millie has a dead-end job, working as a nurse's aid in a nursing home. Her supervisors are brusque, and unsympathetic. She tries to be friendly and helpful, but this often causes her more problems with her bosses.
Pinky (played by the very talented Sissy Spacek) moves to Millie's town. She needs a job and is hired as a nurse's aid, at the same nursing home that Millie works at. Millie is assigned to train Pinky in her new job duties. Pinky soon becomes quite attached to Millie.
Finally, Millie has someone around (Pinky), who actually admires her. When Millie posts a notice on the bulletin board at work , indicating that she seeks a roommate, Pinky is only to happy to get the chance to room with Millie. Pinky then moves into Millie's apartment. Though Millie's apartment has a tacky, garish quality, Pinky expresses how sublime she thinks it is.
One afternoon after work, Millie asks Pinky to go with her to a run-down bar. Pinky meets Millie's friend Edgar, who has set-up a shooting rink out back. He constantly practices shooting there, and invites Millie and Pinky to participate. Edgar is a sophomoric, macho-type, who drinks heavily. He also likes to show-off his marksmanship skills.
Millie also introduces Pinky to Willie, who happens to be Edgar's artist girlfriend. Willie is always painting monstrous, sexually explicit creatures around the bar. Pinky is, inexplicably, mesmerized by Willie's offbeat paintings.
Willie has a haunting, remote presence. She mostly watches everyone else from afar, while being intensely involved with her artwork. Willie also happens to live in the same apartment building, as Millie and Pinky. Her disturbing paintings, adorn the bottom of the swimming pool located there.
Basically, the film doesn't have much of a plot. At least not in the traditional, linear manner that audiences are accustomed to. Instead, Altman chose to focus on the psychological aspects of the relationship between the three woman, and how this changes over time.
The friendship between Pinky and Millie becomes tumultuous, for no obvious reason. Willie is the ethereal, mysterious woman of the three. She doesn't interact much with Millie and Pinky throughout the film. Willie's artwork is so hypnotic to Pinky though, that it has a horrible effect on Pinky's psyche, resulting in tragic consequences. The viewer is left to try and fathom why.
All three women in the film, are social misfits. And they each struggle pathetically to function in the alienating, urban environment that they inhabit. Altman did a marvelous job, highlighting the emotional turmoil that the women inflict on each other, during the course of the film.
This is a film that will leave a deep impression, regarding the dynamics of women's friendships in modern life. But don't expect a neat and tidy conclusion, to the conflicts between the three women. More than any film I've ever seen, this one is vastly open to viewer interpretation.