The contrary streak in Robert Altman's work is particularly evident in Dr T & the Women
, which casts Richard Gere as a smooth, upper-crust Dallas gynaecologist surrounded by dotty women. Surprisingly Gere does not play the sensitive seducer but a genuine admirer of women who is nevertheless progressively bewildered by the sheer number of neurotic females within his life. Dr Sullivan Travis (Gere) tries to cope with a wife (Farrah Fawcett) who reverts to childhood thanks to a rare psychological syndrome brought on by being loved and cared for too much, a sister-in-law (Laura Dern) who tipples and talks constantly as she tries to run the household, one daughter (Kate Hudson) who is about to have an elaborate wedding even though she is actually in love with a college friend (Liv Tyler) and another daughter (Tara Reid) who works in the local assassination conspiracy tourist industry, not to mention a nurse (Shelley Long) who is blindly in love with him and a deceptively sensible golf pro (Helen Hunt) who isn't. Unlike Gosford Park
, this isn't major Altman--it draws a little too much on some of his earlier hits and sometimes twitters too close to low comedy--but it has many of his unique virtues: a sort of cynical warmth in entering an enclosed, oddball world (here, a side of Texas rarely seen on screen) and an uncanny ability to draw the best out of an apparently randomly assembled ensemble cast.
On the DVD: A flawless 1:2.35 letterboxed print, enhanced for 16x9. Otherwise, it's a very nice package. A commentary track assembles thoughts from Altman, screenwriter Anne Rapp and a large amount of the cast, all offering insight into the unusual way that Altman puts a film together and often throwing in surprising bits of information (that Farrah Fawcett was offered Basic Instinct but turned it down because of the nudity, though she has a tasteful clothes-off scene here). Also, a standard making-of short with more soundbites, the theatrical trailer, a few filmographies and a 15-minute to-camera interview with Altman. --Kim Newman
Dr Sullivan Travis (Richard Gere) is the most popular gynaecologist in Dallas, Texas and he's a man with a very busy, very complicated life. His wife Kate (Farrah Fawcett) is going mad, his daughter Dee Dee (Kate Hudson) is about to get married, his nurse Carolyn (Shelley Long) has the hots for him, and he's just beginning to embark on an affair with golf pro Bree Davis (Helen Hunt). But then Dee Dee is having doubts, and thinks maybe she should stick with her lesbian lover Marilyn (Liv Tyler) instead; plus Kate wants a divorce; and Bree isn't so sure; and Carolyn makes a pass. All in all, the women in Dr T's life just won't allow things to be easy for him.