By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on December 10, 2011)
3 Women – Criterion Collection Blu-ray
If Robert Altman’s haunting 1977 character study plays like a languid, sun-baked California fever dream…it’s because it was As the late director explains on the commentary track of Criterion’s 2011 Blu-ray reissue, the story literally appeared to him while he was sleeping. What ended up on the screen not only represents Altman’s best, but one of the best American art films of the 1970s.
The women are Millie (Shelly Duvall), a chatty physical therapist, considered a needy bore by everyone except her childlike roommate/co-worker Pinky (Sissy Spacek), who worships the ground she walks on, and enigmatic Willie (Janice Rule), a pregnant artist who paints anthropomorphic lizard figures on swimming pools. As the three personas slowly merge (bolstered by fearless performances from the three leads), there’s little doubt that Millie, Pinky and Willie hail from the land of Wynken, Blynken and Nod.
Criterion is uncharacteristically skimpy on extras this time out, but the Blu-ray does feature a gorgeous transfer (Altman’s most mesmerizing and beautifully shot film was made for HD).