Steam: The Turkish Bath (1997)

 Falling in love with a country …

steamIn Steam: The Turkish Bath Francesco (Alessandro Gassman), an Italian interior decorator inherits property from an aunt who lived in Istanbul. He leaves wife, Marta (Francesca d’Aloja) and business partner, Paolo (Alberto Molinari) behind while he travels to Istanbul to settle his deceased aunt’s affairs, sell the property etc. Francesco has inherited a Hamam, a Turkish bath, which has fallen into decay due to its lack of use and growing cultural unpopularity. Francesco stays with a family who knew and loved his aunt, and while he intends to sell and leave as quickly as possible, he stays–reluctantly at first ….

Francesco resists liking Istanbul, and he resists liking the family who knew his aunt, but slowly he is seduced by the country … and one of its inhabitants. This story examines the mystery of Francesco’s aunt, and yet several tantalizing details are left unrevealed. Steam: The Turkish Bath is not a perfect film, but nonetheless it’s fascinating in spite of its defects. Francesco is a problematic character and he remains an enigma. Ultimately, we discover more about Francesco’s aunt than we do about him. Francesco’s marriage is cold and sterile–that’s evident in the first scene, and the filmmaker initially presents Marta as an unsympathetic character. It’s a tribute to the filmmaker’s skill that the perception of Marta seamlessly and gradually shifts until she too becomes a character with a sympathetic and very human presentation. The less-than-perfect ending is bolstered by the mystery of the exotic location and the sensual soundtrack. In Turkish and Italian with English subtitles, this is another wonderful film from Turkish director Ferzan Ozpetek.

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4 Comments

Filed under Ferzan Ozpetek, Turkish

4 responses to “Steam: The Turkish Bath (1997)

  1. I loved this film. Seductive and beautiful. I saw it with several people and we had different views of the ending. Did Marta his wife have him killed by the person she gives her ring to. I don,t think so. I think the people who wanted to buy the hammam to turn it into a shopping center had him killed so they could have the
    property. A very thoughtful and elegant film.please reply with opinions about the ending. e

  2. Anomie

    I loved this film too. Facing Windows was my first Ozpetak, and he has another film about to be released on DVD.

    I agree with you about the property grab.

  3. Excellent film with elegant cinematography. What is the other film about to be released called.

    • Guy Savage

      Sorry for the delay in replying:
      I looked on IMDB, and it looks as though there was a 2008 film called A Perfect Day and there’s another due in 2010 called Mine Vaganti.

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