Monday, 24 July 2017
Robert Altman's 3 Women
Brief summary: Pinky Rose (real name Mildred) is enamoured of her colleague and roommate Millie (another Mildred), who is perfect in the childlike eyes of Pinky Rose and in the eyes of Millie’s clueless self. Everything becomes bizarre as Pinky Rose, after an incident, starts to “steal” Millie’s identity. In the background there’s a mysterious pregnant woman named Willie who rarely speaks and paints unsettling and haunting murals. Which is reality? Or is it all a dream? Are the 3 women separate, or part of the same person?
3 Women is an avant-garde film that came from Robert Altman’s dream and got some inspiration from Persona. If you haven’t watched it, you should read Roger Ebert’s review. If you have watched it, read it too—it is one of his most insightful articles.
Having watched it only once, I can’t write about its many hidden meanings, so I will only write about Mildred “Millie” Lammoreaux, which is probably Shelley Duvall’s best performance (even though people usually think of The Shining). Millie seems to be in a constant state of preparing for dates and dinners that never happen; she imagines that everyone enjoys her company and men are crazy about her, and babbles on about anything without noticing that people ignore or even laugh at her among themselves. Never have I seen in films any woman so desperate and deluded. The awkward silences, the ramblings, the cheerful greetings that are always ignored, the unnoticed laughs, the ridiculous one-piece suit, the sheer inability of the character to see herself and to perceive other people’s reactions, etc.—many moments are so cringy that I feel uncomfortable. This is certainly one of the most interesting and memorable female characters on screen.
Interestingly, when Pinky starts to steal her identity and take over her world, the persona she adopts is not the real Millie, but the person Millie sees herself as—fun, confident and popular with the men. As Millie, Pinky’s better than the real Millie.
This film is a must-watch.