The surreal Californian town which houses a spa and day care center for the old and infirm, also houses Millie Lammoreaux. She has lived here for a year or so, before that she lived in Texas and for almost as long as her 30 years she hated it. She has no real friends and no real place in the community. All this changes when Pinky appears. Pinky is a quite, softly type of person. She wants to escape from somewhere and finds Millie a mystery. They become friends but in a way also like a moon to a planet, one revolves around another. When Pinky tries to commit suicide the balance shifts and the orbits change. Now Millie has to redefine here role and Pinky her place. A dream of a film and a nightmare of an experience.
I spoke to Mark Cousins a few weeks back and mentioned that I loved Altmans work. Cousins noted that Altman had only really made 3 good films and that mostly the rest of his films were not very good. I did of course totally disagreed. Nashville, Short cuts, MASH, The Long Goodbye, Gosford Park and The Player are to name a few. Altman’s films in the UK have suffered. Often this is because his films are unavailable to be watched by anyone and instead all the discourse you had about the works or even the director was film criticism and scholarship. Both places are limited in who they are trying to engage with and often they sell masters like Altman in ways that are as if god like. This means that wider audiences already have unreal expectations or have so much suggested legacy, they become almost mythic things. Untouchable and unique as to being difficult to watch without bias. Citizen Kane, The Godfather and Star Wars all suffer the same fate.
3 Women is now available on blu ray from Arrow films and it is a hidden gem. Hidden in that it has been left out of the Altman conversation and so not clouded by adverse judgement. It has a strange logic that works well for the piece. A logic of people evolving and changing. The 3 women in question are 2 women for instance and one changes into another but then the other shifts roles to another also. Duvall gives her greatest performance as Millie. A role that is perfect for Duvall, the soft and fragile person. The cinematography is excellent, as are the dreamlike sequences in the middle. Visually powerful and also just as much about the harrowing power of displacement. Then of course we have the images of the medusa and her clones. Metaphor as idea, idea as motif and point as counter point. A worthy watch for film fans but expect little and gain a lot.