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I'm a big fan of director Joseph Losey, and over the last year I've managed to watch all his movies. But I came to this one, his last, with very low expectations. He was in his eighties, after all, and ratings for Steaming are low.
But...what a delight this movie turned out to be! I found myself slowly but surely drawn into the special world of camaraderie that develops between the characters, and deeply caring about the outcome of the story. (Can the baths, the special place where they all come together, be saved from demolition?)
This is essentially a filmed stage play, yes, but Losey came from a theatrical background (he worked with Brecht way back when), and this movie never feels stage-bound or claustrophobic. Indeed, toward the end of the film, when an important action takes place "off-stage," the logic of never leaving the baths becomes manifest; this is a story that needs to take place over time but in a single location.
Vanessa Redgrave is great as always, and Sarah Miles naked is a revelation, but it's an actress named Patti Love who steals the movie in a dynamite role which she also played in the West End. (She seems to be the only hold-over from the original stage production.) You will not soon forget her.
Special kudos to the simple but exhilarating electronic music score, which has aged almost as nicely as the women in this movie.
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