“The Life Ahead”: A Modern Love Story

By Kathy Winings

A new Netflix film, “The Life Ahead,” brings back to the screen the legendary Sophia Loren after more than a decade since her last film. Her performance in this film shows that age does not matter when it comes to giving an Oscar-worthy performance.

Directed by her son, Edoardo Ponti, and adapted from the novel, The Life Before Us by Romain Gary, “The Life Ahead” is the story of Madame Rosa (Loren), a Holocaust survivor and former prostitute who understands the challenges of young streetwalkers who are mothers, and Momo, a 12-year-old street-wise orphan from Senegal.

Finances are tight and as Rosa is preparing to sell her silver candlesticks, a young African street boy rushes in, pushes her down and steals her bag as she is waiting in line. The boy, Momo, played by young new actor Ibrahima Gueye, has been placed in the care of a local older physician, Dr. Coen, a friend and doctor for Rosa.

When he learns what Momo has done, he takes him to Rosa to apologize to her for stealing her silver.  Rosa, a crusty elderly woman who has seen it all, is skeptical of his sincerity, questions his apology, but grudgingly accepts it. The doctor then tries to convince Rosa to take the boy for a short period of time — just a few weeks or two months at most — believing she can do more for Momo than he can.

It is clear that he cares for Momo but his medical practice doesn’t allow him to spend the time and guidance the boy needs and he thinks Rosa has the grit that will be good for Momo and she can provide the guidance to try to set him on the right path. Of course, her response is, “Are you nuts? Over my dead body!” But she eventually relents and agrees to take him in for a short time.

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