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Dr. T. & the Women (Robert Altman) 2000

Judging from the critical indifference this film received, Robert Altman no longer deserves serious consideration. Everyone else is wrong. Dr. T. & The Women is a hugely, hugely, underrated gem that chronicles what it takes for one man to reach his breaking point. Altman's techniques (long shots, people chattering over each other) were tremendously effective in establishing the escalating level of external stress on Gere's character. The comedy wasn't focused on punch lines, so it flew over most people's heads. The film's filled with a Texas-style ease that makes the comedy go down without much fuss, and performances that range from subtle to scenery-chewing. It's a pastiche, to be sure, but most films can't even begin to gather enough content to deserve such a term. Gere's Dr. Sullivan Travis (a clear homage to the Sturges film) is the gentlest kind of chauvinist. He generally admires the women in his life and egotistically assumes that he will be able to kill any of them with kindness when he fucks up. The film's ending is a reproach to his worldview, and the twin miracles that cap it off are as brilliant as those in P. T. Anderson's great Magnolia, if a bit easier to swallow. This seems to be one of the most overlooked films of recent years... I am sure time will reevaluate it kindly.



Jeremy Heilman