Steaming surrounds a women’s bath-house and the fight to maintain it as an awkward rallying point for sisterhood.
Based on the successful play by Neil Dunn, it is indiscriminately transferred here from stage to screen – including the improbable cross-section of the clientele and the over-simplification of the feminist issues.
It is unbearably talky in all the wrong ways with each player, in turn, getting a chance to deliver a set piece, as if aware that this is her aria.
Sometimes the camera stays on her as she does so as if to underline its significance. Sometimes it tracks on a soliloquy. Either way, the theatricality is wholly damaging and groupings of women often have an arranged look that belongs to the stage rather than the screen.
The film is also over-cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles and Diana Dors have presences too powerful for the necessary ensemble playing, so that Patti Love as the working-class Josie, has to ‘act’ far too strenuously to match them.