This was a really tough movie to watch but worth staying the course. Filmmaker Lina Wertmuller is not holding up her protagonist, Pasqualino Seven Beauties, as any kind of role model or hero. She neither applauds his actions nor does she judge him but her choices throughout the movie challenge our assumptions that survival and morality are linked.
Pasqualino to this point has been sitting pretty as the war rages far away from his seemingly successful mattress stuffing enterprise staffed by his seven sisters and mother. He’s a sharp dresser who thinks he’s got a way with the ladies.
We learn this in a series of flashbacks that set a tone of jaunty eye-winking at all that tiresome Facism business then going on in Italy. However, by the time Pasqualino is steeling himself to dismember the body of the pimp he just inadvertently shot we find ourselves in a very different narrative.
Without going into any further details (because you really need to see this film) suffice to say that Lina makes her point through means both ghastly and hysterically funny that survival often has nothing to do whatsoever with moral values. The moral people here die horrible deaths, the moral women prostitute themselves, and Pasqualino does whatever it takes to survive.
That he does should not be construed as a happy ending.