Steaming | Chicago Reader

Steaming

It turned out to be Joseph Losey's last film, and although the material (a stage piece by Nell Dunn) is just about worthless, it does show off Losey's dazzling formal gifts. His camera floats through a superbly designed set—a London bathhouse where an improbable cross section of upper- and lower-class women gather together to expound on feminist themes—defining a variety of social and emotional spaces. Though the drama is completely unconvincing (the local government has resolved to tear down the baths; the women band together to save them), Losey manages to coax a surprisingly varied texture from it, bringing the characters together in constantly shifting combinations and leading up to an astonishing (if largely unmotivated) lyrical conclusion. The shy dignity of Vanessa Redgrave's performance stands out against the flashy Broadway effects of other players, who include Sarah Miles, Diana Dors, Patti Love, and Felicity Dean.

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