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STEAMING

Director: JOSEPH LOSEY

U.K. • 1984 • COLOUR • DOLBY STEREO • 35MM • 95 MIN.


Skilfully adapted by Losey’s wife Patricia from Nell Dunn’s play, Steaming is set in a women’s-only Turkish bath, now threatened with closure, and follows the conversations of a group of women from varied backgrounds as they talk about their lives. It was Losey’s last film and can be related to his other work in various ways: the class antagonism between the characters; the setting as refuge or fortress from outside intrusion; the baths as metaphor for a run-down England, in which different individuals now pool together to resist becoming random victims of the ‘economic necessity’ argument beloved of the Thatcher era. What is unusual is the touch of romantic licence (lovely shimmering dissolves that are unexpected for Losey but right for the piece) and an optimism about the possibility of change through solidarity of purpose. Even Losey’s most abrasive biographer, David Caute, warmed to the film’s ‘affectionate and relaxed view of the human condition’; indeed, the maestro finally manages a happy ending. Vanessa Redgrave and Sarah Miles head a fine cast, and Diana Dors is especially touching in her final film role.

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