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Francesco and Marta are husband and wife running a small design company in Rome. When Francesco's long forgotten Aunt Anita dies in Istanbul, he travels there to look after the sale of the hamam (one of a few traditional Turkish baths left) he inherited. There he meets the family running the hamam, gets attracted to a member of it and the whole Turkish atmosphere and decides not to sell the hamam.. Written by
This film is really a very subtle, literate story. Nothing hits you over the head, there's nothing to win or lose at the end, it's just characters and events unfolding and interacting within a languid pace. It's really a beautiful film, both in scenery, sentiment and depth of feeling.
If you've ever visited Istanbul you should see this film. I expected to see the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque right off, but you never see them-- the film chooses to see Istanbul through the charming back alleys and everyday people. The traditions of the country and the warmth of the people are ever-present in this film. Istanbul itself is like a character here, and its special charms are at the center of the story. If you have visited there, you will understand why the characters become so captivated.
But this film only uses Istanbul and the Hamam as a vehicle for showing its characters ways of finding happiness and tranquility in one's life. The story is much more general and eternal. It shares that quality with literature-- it is at once about these specific characters, and also about everyone, everywhere.
Here in New York this film is called "Steam" and is being sold as a major homoerotic experience. It's sad that they have to cheapen this wonderful movie in that way, and people going expecting to get their jollies will be woefully disappointed-- and entirely missing the point.
One tends to think of Turkish/Italian cinema as not being as technically sophisticated, but this film is vary carefully and intelligently written and directed. This really is one of those special, beautiful movies, not as flashy or intense as some, but I think I will remember this film for a long time.
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