3 Women (1977)

3 women poster 1977 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Altman meets Bergman meets Lynch


Movie Info

Movie Name:  3 Women

Studio:  Lions Gate Films

Genre(s):  Drama/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  April 3, 1977

MPAA Rating:  PG

There’s Willie…Just warning you, Pinky that this is going to be a long, strange trip

Mildred “Pinky” Rose (Sissy Spacek) has come to a dusty California desert resort town and left her home in Texas behind.  She manages to find rooming with her coworker Mildred “Millie” Lammoreaux (Shelley Duvall) and begins to mimic Millie’s lifestyle.  The outspoken Millie has problems of her own and when she lashes out at Pinky, tragedy strikes…and a spiral of madness begin to take over.

Written, produced, and directed by Robert Altman, 3 Woman is a psychological drama thriller.  The film was released to critical acclaim but was out of print for years.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #230).

You kind of know what to expect entering a Robert Altman film…I wasn’t expecting 3 Women.  Taking a big lead from Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, Altman crafted a film very different from his other work.

3 women sissy spacek shelley duvall

I want to be just like you, Millie…I sleep around…get it?

The story for the movie is like Altman meets Bergman meets David Lynch.  The story is a weird psychological story that is both dreamlike and nightmarish at points.  Watching the film, you question if some characters are even real at points and the overlapping of the stories.  The film continues to grow more and more surreal until it reaches an ending where the three characters “become one” as the poster proclaims (I just wish they had incorporated Willie Hart more into the core story).

Normally Shelley Duvall gets on my nerves, but she really works in this film.  Her flighty, arrogance is covering her insecurity, and it feels genuine.  Sissy Spacek also plays up her Carrie White-esque character who goes from timid to cool and calculating by the end of the film.  Janice Rule (the third woman) really is the outsider in the film, but in many ways the other two women end up feeling like extensions of her painting and frustration.

3 women millie gun shelley duvall

Well, at least none of these crazy women are armed…oh yeah, they all are

The movie looks like a lot of Altman films for the most part with a lot of big pans, open scenery and interesting framing of characters.  During the film’s climax, the movie begins to take a more surreal approach with a lot of different visual cues that something more is happening which once again looks more like a Lynch or Bergman film.

3 Women was a pleasant surprise.  I like Altman, but it is always interesting to see a director go in a different direction than you expected.  The movie fits a lot of genres, but it is hard to call a “genre” picture since it is rather unique in its storytelling.  It is worth seeking out, but don’t expect a lot of answers.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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