A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
One of the peculiarities of "Steam: The Turkish Bath'' is that it's about the sexual passions of two actors who don't seem very passionate. As the movie opens, they're married. Both are tall, thin, dark, solemn and secretive. He seems like a well-meaning wimp. She seems like the kind of woman who would close her eyes during sex and fantasize about tomorrow's entries in her Day Timer.
The film opens in Rome, where their marriage seems shaky. They find fault with each other, but in vague terms that don't give us useful insights. Then the man, named Francesco (Alessandro Gassman), flies to Istanbul, where he has been left some property by an aunt.
The building turns out to be a Turkish bath, closed but still fondly remembered in the neighborhood. Francesco makes friends with the family of Osman, the man who used to manage the bath. Osman lives next door with his wife, comely daughter and comelier son. In his home, Francesco finds a warmth and cheer that was missing from his sterile existence in Rome, and soon he's languishing in the arms of the son, named Mehmet (Mehmet Gunsur). He extends his stay and begins to renovate the Turkish bath, planning to reopen it.
No one suspects a thing--not even Osman (Halil Ergun), who in the nature of things must have learned a little something about what can go on in the steam. The film is reserved about sex and shy about nudity, employing its greatest passion for travelogue scenes of Istanbul, a city of great beauty and character.