The Life Ahead (Italian: La vita davanti a sé) is an Italian drama directed by Edoardo Ponti (Sophia Loren’s son), from a screenplay by Ponti and Ugo Chiti. It’s the third screen adaptation of the 1975 novel The Life Before Us by Romain Gary. The Life Ahead is interesting and heartfelt. This is Sophia Loren’s first theatrical movie since Nine, released in 2009. I love this film, kudos to Sophia who still has what it takes to maintain her status as a class act diva and superstar.
Madam Rosa (Sophia Loren) is a former prostitute and Jewish Holocaust survivor who provides a home in her apartment for the children of other “working women” in the port city of Bari, Apulia, Italy. After a 12-year old orphaned Senegalese immigrant child, Momo (Ibrahima Gueye) robs her, Dr. Cohen (Renato Carpentieri, the boy’s foster father, who also happens to be Rosa’s doctor, brings her stolen items back and makes the boy apologize. Cohen offers Rosa money to take in the boy and look after him for a couple of months. After a back and forward conversation with Cohen, she reluctantly agrees.
Momo, who has been kicked out of school for stabbing a bully with a pencil, secretly sells drugs for a dealer in Bari, but Rosa also gets him a job working with Hamil (Babak Karimi), a kind Muslim shopkeeper. All of these adults form the village that tries to guide Momo in the right direction. Rosa’s neighbor and friend, a prostitute named Lola (Abril Zamora [es]) whose daughter Rosa looks after, helps Rosa as she begins to decline mentally. At times she is lucid while at others she is catatonic. Over time, Rosa and Momo develop a deep bond as he becomes her only ward. He quits selling drugs. She asks him to promise to keep her out of the hospital, and he agrees, but she is finally taken there after a particularly bad catatonic episode. Momo sneaks her out of the hospital at night and hides her in a basement room of her apartment building where she is comfortable and feels safe. Rosa and Momo become quite the team and prove to be just what Roma needed at this time in her life. Momo’s street savvy allows him to do what most others would not be able to handle. To see how they survive, you’ll have to see this incredible movie. The Life Ahead holds a 92% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 87 reviews, with a weighted average of 7.10/10. The site’s critical consensus reads: “A classic example of how a talented actor can elevate somewhat standard material, The Life Ahead proves Sophia Loren’s star power remains absolutely undimmed.” The Life Ahead was Golden Globe award-nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and won for Best Original Song. Additionally, in a three-starred review for The Observer, Mark Kermode said of Sophia Loren: “The 86-year-old star’s expressive performance as a former sex worker caring for an orphaned child is the main draw in this sometimes formulaic tale directed by her son.” The Life Ahead is streaming on Netflix — Check It Out!
[THE LIFE AHEAD is Oscar-nominated at the 93rd Academy Awards for Best Original Song — Totaling 1 Nomination]