Giancarlo Giannini portrays Pasqualino, a suave, street wise Italian hood who uses his wits in order to survive World War II and a Nazi prison camp. Lina Wertmuller's acclaimed film successfully shifts tone several times, from comic to tragic, from drama to romance to action, always keeping a delicate balance. Academy Award Nominations: 3, including Best Actor--Giancarlo Giannini, Best (Original) Screenplay.
Pasqualino, otherwise known as "Seven Beauties," embodies two elements specific to the human condition: he is innately drawn towards anarchy and the urge to do whatever is needed to survive -- no matter how ugly or immoral.| The film tells two stories about Pasqualino. During World War II, Pasqualino deserts the Italian army and is captured by the Germans. He lives through his internment in the hellish concentration camp by offering sexual favors to the grotesque female commandant. She knows Pasqualino is doing it to stay alive, but plays along anyway. | Then, in flashback, we learn about his life in Naples before the war. A small-time narcissistic gangster, Pasqualino butchers a pimp who takes advantage of one of his seven sisters. Instead of honorably confessing to the gory details of the crime when he is arrested, Pasqualino pleads insanity to avoid a death sentence. He is sent to an insane asylum where he engages in more appallingly bad behavior. Later, he is forced to serve in the army.| At the end of the war, Pasqualino returns home to Naples, set to brace himself against unforeseen adversaries.| |
"[The film] carves comedic serendipity out of the torture and gore..." 09/09/2005 p.132