The value of individuality in many cultures is immeasurable. Some feel as if humans cannot actualize or achieve their full potential until they have reached a consensus of inner solitude and clarity in understanding their true identity. The pressure and temptation to idolize and acclimate with supposedly “greater versions” of ourselves can prevent or hinder that valued pursuit of unique identity discovery. Some may subsequently become illusionary with their position in the social sphere as well as their untouched persona. 3 Women is a 1977 avant-garde drama directed by one of the gurus of ensemble cinema, Robert Altman, which explores the extreme benefits and costs of collectivism versus individuality in a Western society.
Pinky Rose (Sissy Spacek) is an impressionable, clingy teenage girl from Texas who begins working at a California health spa for senior citizens. Millie Lammoreaux (Shelly Duvall) is a highly valued employee of the spa who orients Pinky to her new work environment. Pinky is infatuated with Millie, viewing her as an inspiring, mature, majestic human being who is loved by all. When the opportunity for becoming Millie’s roommate appears, Pinky is only too thrilled to oblige. The third woman, Willie Hart (Janice Rule), is pregnant and paints ancient, mythical, human-like creatures as a means of expressing her perception of reality in the midst of loneliness, suppression, and exceptional introversion. Willie’s obnoxious, womanizing husband Edgar (Robert Fortier) co-owns the apartment complex in which Pinky and Millie live. His presence and distastefulness create great divides and power struggles amongst the three women. Each woman faces and deals with alienation, frustration, and restlessness via distinct and various means which transitions through roads of unity, seclusion, and eventual resolution.
The themes in this convoluted, at times dreamlike film hones understandably into its complexity. Mimicry, reclusiveness, fear, guilt, unison, facades, and personality are some of the notions investigated which emerge from each woman’s evolving sense of relating to their world. There is no hero or villain as is the case in reality. There is an aura of vanity, shame, and uneasiness in many actions executed in the film, which is highly relatable to humankind. The actors, especially Spacek and Duvall, embody this concept remarkably well with great chemistry, thus enhancing the viewer’s discomfort with recognition of their own past sometimes regretful actions. Further through incredible direction, cinematography, and fantasy, this intricate film taps into the raw curiosity, shame, guilt, conflict, and concordance of the human experience.
I do not own the pictures in this post. As well, this post is a part of the Decades Blogathon hosted by Thomas J and Three Rows Back! Please check out their blogs over the next couple of weeks to read about films from years ending in the number ‘7’!