Friday, 18 April 2014

3 Women (1977) [70's Marathon] 1#

 Directed by: Robert Altman
123 Minutes

To kick off the marathon, I wanted to watch Robert Altman's 3 Women, which has turned out to be an odd, but entertaining experience. Inspired by a dream Altman had, the film follows Shelley Duvall (Milly) and Sissy Spacek (Pinky/Mildred), two women who become roommates and have a strange relationship with one another. With all the chilling music and bizarre paintings, the film creates a unique atmosphere giving us the sense of tension and uneasiness in both the characters and their relationship to one another. This is the best acting I have seen from Duvall, she really brought something to the character. So, what is it that makes this an interesting watch?

 To begin with, you really don't know where it is going. The majority of the film feels like a dream or some sort of distorted reality, which is fitting as Altman, said it was based on a strange dream he had. The characters, the music, the dialogue- everything seems to be quite uneasy which kind of captures Spacek's character as being one who is inept when it comes to sociability.

One thing I noticed was how people treated Milly. Very often we see her talking to people, but they don't seem to be listening to her. Then there are times where we can hear groups of people talking about her, such as the scene when she comes down at night to sit, we overhear "here comes Milly, making her entrance". This was something I could relate to, and it was quite sad to see. Another thing that drew my sympathy was the party she tried to have, which no one ended up attending to. Felt rather sorry for her.

Then we see the relationship between Milly and Pinky, where Milly gets irritated by some of her habits, and we see her shouting at Pinky. This sister-like relationship develops as the film goes on. One thing that really intrigues me about the film is the triangle of the 3 women. Milly, Pinky, and the non-talkative pregnant woman 'Willy' who works at bar, and also paints (rather vivid pictures). AS the film goes on, this triangular relationship becomes more apparent, and it is almost like these three characters, who are all considered outcasts in a sense come together, almost as one.

In Roger Ebert's review, he writes that Ingmar Bergmans Persona influenced this film, and surely, it must have. Half way through the film, I couldn't help but think of Persona, a film that explores the relationship of two women. Indeed, it can be seen with Altman's film, with Pinky almost trying to steal Milly's identity. You can see traces of Pinky wanting to take the identity of others, such as how she tries to mimic the twins in an early on scene (picture below)  Overall, I think this is one of those lesser-known films of the 70's that don't gain the attention of films like The Exorcist, Chinatown, The Godfather or even Alien. Altman’s film creates a unique atmosphere, which makes 3 Women worth watching for a hypnotic and tense experience.




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