Seven Beauties

Movie Information

Seven Beauties, part of a series of Classic Cinema From Around the World, will be presented at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at Courtyard Gallery, 9 Walnut St. in downtown Asheville. Info: 273-3332.
Genre: Black Comedy/Drama
Director: Lina Wertmüller
Starring: Giancarlo Giannini, Fernando Rey, Shirley Stoler, Elena Fiore, Piero De Iorio
Rated: R

Watching Lina Wertmüller’s most highly regarded film, Seven Beauties (1975), for this review (and for easily the first time in 30 years), I was struck not so much by what a great Wertmüller picture it is—though it is that—but by how it is so stylistically part and parcel of 1970s filmmaking. I throw that out not to downplay Wertmüller’s contribution to film, but to suggest that she wasn’t separate from that exciting period of film, as often seems to be the belief, but rather an integral part of it. If someone were to actually reevaluate her generally overlooked place in film history, I have a hunch that she’d have a higher place in the pantheon of filmmakers from that era of “superstar” directors. And there could be no better place to start than with Seven Beauties.

The film is a bleakly funny, beautifully made and deeply disturbing work that follows—in a nonlinear fashion (no, that didn’t start with Pulp Fiction in 1994)—the misadventures of Pasqualino Frafuso (Giancarlo Giannini), an absurd macho creation of typical Wertmüller design. Pasqualino has seven sisters—all rather homely, some even more than that—and an absurd idea of them dishonoring the family name. This idea leads to him murdering a pimp, landing in an insane asylum, being put in the army, captured by Germans, and thrown into a concentration camp—where his notions of honor sink lower than could be imagined. Some of it is grim beyond description, but all of it is brilliant filmmaking from an artist at the top of her form.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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7 thoughts on “Seven Beauties

  1. As someone who’s used to seeing Giancarlo Giannini playing middle-aged characters in Hollywood movies, it’s quite jarring to look at that photo and realize that he was once young.

  2. Ken Hanke

    As someone who’s used to seeing Giancarlo Giannini playing middle-aged characters in Hollywood movies, it’s quite jarring to look at that photo and realize that he was once young.

    Even I was young back then.

  3. Ken Hanke

    You know, I hate to say it, but your obsession with Tetro is becoming about on par with Cullen’s obsession with Pink Flamingos.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Actually, I think that the mass purging of remarks made by an incorrigible poster known as Richey on the old Xpress Forums has rendered that Tetro remark utterly incomprehensible.

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