18th Jul2015

‘3 Women’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Academy)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Janice Rule, Robert Fortier, Ruth Nelson, John Cromwell, Sierra Pecheur, Craig Richard Nelson, Maysie Hoy, Belita Moreno, Leslie Ann Hudson, Patricia Ann Hudson, Beverly Ross, John Davey | Written and Directed by Robert Altman


There are some movies that just get under your skin and cause you to have to think, and the worst part is you realise that they aren’t meant to be understood, and that is how they get their hooks into you. Robert Altman’s 3 Women was said to be based on a dream. I guess it comes as no surprise that it feels like it is one of the most haunting dreams you’ll have. With Arrow Video’s new Blu-ray it is also a dream of a release…

When Pinky (Sissy Spacek) starts work at a spa in the California desert, she meets fellow attendant Millie (Shelley Duval) a lonely outcast eager to fit in with her peers. Pinky connects to Millie, becoming her roommate and quickly merging herself into her world. Meeting a pregnant woman Willie (Janice Rule) and her husband Edgar (Robert Fortier) the group become part of a strange relationship that defines them all, while in the same instance destroying the lives they have.

Three women is a film about Pinky the youth, Millie the woman trying to fit in and Willie the elder, in a way it could be the three ages of women. Even saying that I feel I’ve got it wrong, being a man and not fully understanding what it is to be a woman and how can I define characters like that? This is the confusing nature of the film. Never is it done in a way though that you could argue Altman pushes his own belief on what it is to be a woman, if anything these characters could be male and it would be just as effective, but with a few slight perspective changes.

If anything 3 Women is about growing up, about trying to fit in and just how hard it is to be a part of society at times. We see Pinky and her almost cloning of Millie to become a part of the society she is in, we see Millie the try hard who never manages to be a part of the “crowd” she so longs to be in and we have Willie who has lived life and just doesn’t care anymore, she just does her own thing. All the time we also have Edgar the almost predatory man who manipulates all three. What is the main message? Who knows, you have to work it out yourself. It could simply be put down to one word though, and that is life.

When it comes to performances, all three women are very good. Spacek is good at playing the innocent character, creating the persona of the child in Pinky, even the name suggests youth. Shelley Duval as seen in other movies too has a quirky style to the characters she creates that while charismatic and likeable can easily pull her away and mark her as the outcast. Janice Rule on the other hand hardly says a word, but never needs to. Just the atmosphere she creates in her performance creates the character for her and that is what makes the movie work.

A release like this is why I love Arrow Films, because without them there is a chance I’d let this film pass me by, or only manage to see this by chance while flicking through the channels late one night (if that even happens anymore?) I’ve never seen it available and without this Arrow Academy release maybe I’d not see it again? For movie geeks this is the type of film that should be seen, even if it doesn’t seem to fit your tastes. It is unique, haunting, and truly unforgettable.

Films like 3 Women just wouldn’t get made in today’s Hollywood, and that is its beauty. You have to remember that this was a release by 2oth Century Fox in the same year as Star Wars. Yes it wasn’t a huge success, but it still left its mark on those who saw it and still manages to be as strong today as it ever was. If you are a fan of films like Easy Rider, give 3 Women a try, you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised.

***** 5/5

3 Women is available on Blu-ray now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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