3 Women (1977) – On a very spontaneous moment, I chose Robert Altman’s 3 Women as my classic movie of the month. Mostly because it starred Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall (whom I both adore). I had also never heard anything about the film, yet after finishing the movie I read that Roger Ebert named it the best film of the year when it came out.
I’m a big fan of narratives with crazy ladies…but don’t be fooled, there was no cliches in this one. Sissy Spacek stars as Pinky, a naive, awkward country girl immediately fixated on her coworker, Millie (Shelley Duvall), who initially appears to be completely self-absorbed and desperate for a man. They quickly become roommates, but just when things feel like they are headed straight for a Single White Female kind of moment, Pinky ends up in the hospital and Millie suddenly grows a soul. Things get really macabre when Pinky’s folks come into town to visit her in the hospital and from there the story takes on a distorted dream-like effect. Although the women don’t exactly switch roles, they are both creepy in their own right. Personally, I loved watching Millie make recipes out of magazines (hello Cheese Whiz and Tuna Casserole as classy dinner party dishes!), and Sissy Spacek sure knows how to nail “crazy.”
So who’s the third woman? Willie, a pregnant and seemingly mute artist who is married to the owner of the apartment complex they live in. She stays mostly on the fringes, but plays a gothic, yet modern, “mad woman in the attic” role. Kind of like Jane Eyre on LSD.
My only beef with the movie was the soundtrack. It was so dated, and although I understand things were supposed to feel discordant, I still couldn’t appreciate the flute and trumpet playing minor keys at awkward moments. It’s like, yeah, we get it.
Anyway, this one definitely gets shelved as a favorite for me.