Robert Altman got inspiration for 3 Women from a dream and the film itself has a dreamlike quality, feeling slightly otherworldly and obtuse. Having built up fearsome reputation as one of the best American filmmakers through the 1970s, the release of 3 Women signalled a change of direction and emphasis. Many comparisons have been drawn with Bergman’s Persona and the both films focus on two people sharing and swapping personalities.
When Pinky (Sissy Spacek) arrives at a resort somewhere in the Californian wasteland she is instantly infatuated and latches on to Millie (Shelley Duvall). She’s bewitched by her glamour and confidence believing Millie’s the most beautiful person she’s ever met. The pair begin to live together, inhabiting the Purple Sage Apartments run by the cobwebbed cowboy Edgar and his mysterious artist wife Willie. Tensions mount as the pair squabble in their claustrophobic apartment and the balance of power begins to gradually shift.
3 Women is one of Altman’s best films, with the two leads both putting in superb performances. It’s very much a feminist film in that the male roles are almost entirely superfluous to the story. Much of the dialogue was ad-libbed which injects another element to the strangeness. Millie is a product of the media around her, always trying to be the perfect woman. Pinky, on the other hand, is bright eyed and excitable, eager to discover new things. As the pair swap roles we see different aspects to their personalities, but this change is so well done it feels natural. 3 Women is a triumph of cinematic vision and an astute study of personality and identity.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
New 4K digital restoration by Twentieth Century Fox.
Original uncompressed PCM mono audio.
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.
New video interview with David Thompson, editor of ‘Altman on Altman’ and producer of the BBC’s ‘Robert Altman in England’.
Archive interview with Shelley Duvall from the Cannes Film Festival – the actress describes working with Altman, his methods and how she started acting.
Galleries featuring behind-the-scenes photos, the Cannes Film Festival press conference and promotional images
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh.
Booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic David Jenkins and excerpts from Altman on Altman, illustrated with original stills.
3 Women is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Films on Monday.