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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Directed by Joseph Losey
New World Video 1986 DVD/VHS Feature Film

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.
— Muriel Rukeyser

For a handful of very different women, a Turkish bath in London offers an alternative environment where they can soothe their bodies, unravel their cares, and share the stories of their lives. Josie (Patti Love) is a rakish lower-class divorcee who views sex as the only ticket to pleasure in her empty life. Mrs. Meadow (Brenda Bruce) is a puritanical mother who dominates her repressed and unstable daughter Dawn (Felicity Dean). Sarah (Sarah Miles) is a successful lawyer and former jet-setter who now lives alone and yearns for the child she'll never have. Her friend Nancy (Vanessa Redgrave), whose husband has just left her, is adrift on a sea of loneliness with her three children. Violet (Diana Dors) is the motherly manager of the Turkish bath who reveals that the place is going to be shut down for a new leisure development.

Steaming, which was director Joseph Losey's last film, is based on a play by Nell Dunn. In Patricia Losey's screenplay, the women talk about the loss of love and the loneliness of marriage, the drain of serving others and having nothing left for oneself, the failings of men, and the value of female camaraderie. Although the movie is very stagy and the finale too predictable, it contains some fine ensemble acting which makes it well worth the journey to the theatre. Steaming has much to say about the hopes, fears, failings and small triumphs of women who reveal to each other the truth about their lives.


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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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