Robert Altman's Three Women takes a surreal, improvisational and rather eerie look at the lives of three women in a western desert town. The plot centers around the youngest of the women, Pinky (Sissy Spacek), an eccentric, withdrawn woman trying to begin a new life. She finds work as an attendant at a hot springs spa catering to the elderly and infirm. There she befriends her co-worker Millie (Shelley Duvall), an equally strange but more outgoing woman; the two bond, and are soon sharing an apartment. Pinky becomes increasingly dependent on Millie, eventually adopting aspects of her personality and appearance. This obsessive attachment is threatened when Pinky discovers Millie with a man -- Edgar (Robert Fortier), the macho, faux-cowboy husband of local artist Willie (Janice Rule), the last of the title's three women. Pinky's subsequent, desperate actions precipitate the film's enigmatic conclusion, involving an unexpected series of confrontations and role reversals amongst the three women. This story tends to take a backseat to the elliptical, spooky imagery, particularly the desert landscapes, and the quirky performances -- not surprising, given that the film was reportedly shot without a full screenplay and inspired by Altman's own dreams.
by Judd Blaise synopsis