Time and again, ‘The Life Ahead’ star, Sophia Loren has challenged the conventional norms, maybe it is the beauty standards or being vocal about your choices. She is a living example of the fact that if a “fountain of youth” exists, then it is in your creativity and ideas and not your physical appearance. The Life Ahead film is yet another comeback for the legendary actress, Sophia Loren, who was last seen in Edward Ponti’s 25-minute venture called “The Human Voice“.
‘The Life Ahead or La vita davanti a sé (in Italian) is a contemporary adaptation of “La vie devant soi,” a novel by Romain Gary. It has been directed by Edward Ponti who is also the son of Sophia Loren. Ibrahima Gueye, the 12-year-old actor, plays the character of Momo alongside Sophia Loren, who plays Madame Rosa.
Momo had a troubled childhood. His mother had been killed by his father when she denied practicing prostitution. Since the age of six years, he had lived with his legal guardian, Dr. Coen (Renato Carpentieri), who wasn’t able to find any suitable home for him. Momo indulged in all kinds of bad activities. He stole, sold drugs, and lived a life as if he doesn’t care about the repercussions that lie ahead.
Madam Rosa has her share of troubles. She was a holocaust survivor who once was into prostitution. Now she fostered children even though she had limited resources.
Dr. Coen pleads with her to take Momo as her ward. But she knew about his indulgences as he had stolen from her also. Momo had snatched her bag, the possessions of which she was going to use to pay off her debt. But that’s the thing about complex personalities. You understand if you have gone through the same kind of trouble. She takes him in.
They develop a very unusual bond. They look out and care for each other in a very nonexpressive manner which forms the core of the narrative.
The Nature of Adversity
That’s the thing about adversity, you are capable of understanding it only if you have experienced it yourself. Madame Rosa understands that Momo has had a very difficult childhood and is trying to cope up with that. On the other hand, Momo realizes that Madame Rosa has some fears and wants to. She is scared to a point where her brain gets the better of her. She is in bad shape and Momo understands it. First time in his life Momo finds someone with whom he feels cushioned. She gives him that feeling of belongingness that he had longed for in his entire life. She doesn’t scold him when he acts irrationally or rudely, because she understands that his mold has been terribly shaken by certain events that no one should ever be allowed to go through i.e in a fair world.
‘The Life Ahead’ film lags a tad bit in touching those emotional chords. The intention is sincere but it is pulled back by the execution of the same. Sophia Loren and Ibrahima Gueye through their respective performances have elevated the narrative to another realm. Especially the scenes between the duo fill you with a venomous animosity towards this unfair world. You can’t resist but ask why the scales are so uneven. How does it even make sense to put all the troubles in the bag of one person? That’s how masterfully the actors have executed. You are pushed into a zone where you start questioning the philosophies.
Streaming on Netflix, The Life Ahead film marks the glorious comeback of Sophia Loren, one of the last actresses who have been a part of Hollywood’s golden age.
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