A review of the new Italian film “The Life Ahead”

Like my mother, Sophia Loren is an Italian who grew up in Naples. However, Loren has lived longer (she is now 86), she has had a rather more illustrious career (she has won two Academy Awards), and her son Edoardo Ponti has been more successsful than me (he directed this Italian-language film).

Although based on a French-language novel which has previously been made into a French-language film, this particular adaptation is set in the seaside town of Bari at the foot of Italy. Loren plays Madame Rosa, a Holocaust survivor and former prostitute, who now looks after children of deceased sex workers. She is persuaded to take on responsibility for a 12 year old orphan boy from Senegal called Momo, wonderfully portrayed by Ibrahima Gueye.

The changing dynamics between these two characters – so different in so many ways but both needing something vital from the other – is the emotional heart of the narrative, but there are other delightful supporting roles in a genuinely moving story. This is Loren’s first cinematic role in 11 years and it is one of her best ever.


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