Francesco (Gassman) is a successful Italian businessman who goes to Istanbul to oversee the sale of his late aunt's property, a traditional Turkish bath-house, or hammam. Staying with the kindly family who look after the facility, the initially uptight Francesco gradually comes under the sway of the relaxed rhythms of the city, decides to restore the building and finds himself attracted to the handsome Mehmet. Meanwhile Francesco's wife (D'Aloja) has arrived in Turkey to ask for a divorce.
The debut from Turk director Ozpetek, Hammam: The Turkish Bath is an assured and atmospheric piece of storytelling which, amid the meaningful looks and glances, contains a surprising plot twist. Evocatively shot in old Istanbul, it's bolstered by a fine central performance from Gassman as the man undergoing an emotional transformation in a foreign land. A positive vision of the clash between two cultures.