A decade long retirement from the limelight and later a majestic return at the age of 86! This is what Sophia Loren’s appearance in ‘The Life Ahead’ is all about. Even in the mid 80s the actress proved herself to be a versatile screen presence as she used to be in her early career.
The movie which got aired via Netflix on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, was wholeheartedly welcomed by the viewers.
In the movie, Sophia played Madame Rosa, the main character who encounters a new set of challenges upon allowing Momo (Ibrahima Gueye) to live in her apartment — which doubles as a shelter for the children of sex workers.
‘The Life Ahead’ released on Friday won many hearts!
The story can be considered as a classic: Madame Rosa, transplanted from La Pigalle in Paris to a seaside town in Italy, is a former prostitute who serves as a caretaker and mother figure for the children of her erstwhile colleagues in the sex-work industry. One day, she is asked to take on a particularly challenging case: A 12-year-old Senegalese immigrant named Momo (Ibrahima Gueye), with whom she has immediate, volatile chemistry. The two fight, tussle and argue, two wounded souls who, when they finally begin to let their guards down, are much more alike than different.
Working from the 1975 French novel La Vie Devant Soi, Ponti (who is also Loren’s son, by the late film producer Carlo Ponti), frames Life as a mournful flashback through Momo’s eyes, centered on the fateful moment he meets Loren’s Madam Rosa — by snatching her bag in a public market. It’s hardly his first misdemeanor; at 12, he’s already an inveterate hustler and scrapper, stubbornly averse to well-meaning grownups’ many attempts to rehabilitate him.
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Following this the goodwill of his temporary guardian, a gruff but kindhearted elderly physician (Renato Carpentieri) has begun to fray. He is thus admitted to Sophia’s house where he asks forgiveness for his petty thievery. Madam Rosa however, tries to push him in the right direction by getting him to work with an Algerian shopkeeper Hamil (Babak Karimi). But he’s already occupied somewhere else. Selling weed for the local crime boss Ruspa (Massimiliano Rossi), he feels a sense of pride when he becomes the neighbourhood’s top dealer. He gets the father’s validation he desperately seeks from Ruspa, who’s himself separated from his son. This presents a timeworn dilemma to test if Momo will make the right choice concerned with his family.
Later Momo carves a space at Casa Rosa alongside two other boys, though his hard shell hardly cracks on contact. Only memories of his beloved mother seem to reach whatever tender spot remains in him.
A series of unhurried, gently episodic moments follow, wafting from Rosa’s loose-knit clan of young wards and working girls — including a transgender former prizefighter — to Momo’s part-time job assisting an affable shopkeeper (A Separation’s great Babak Karimi) and his more illicit errands for a shady local businessman (Massimiliano Ross).
The entire plot is governed by the lively chemistry between Madame Rosa and Momo which was beyond expectations. Both Sophia and Ibrahim slayed in their roles as Rosa and Momo. In her eponymous return Sophia has made a stellar performance in capturing the horrors of Holocaust and dementia through her versatile facial nuances and pivotal dialogues. Also as a boy who is strangulated by the society and sidelined from the mainstream phenomenon, Momo is a young soul who is constantly in search of love. The piercing look of sympathy and his constant, tiring search for love is worth mentioning.
The movie pictures how life takes unexpected turns in both their lives. Mutilated both physically and mentally by their traumatic pasts, Madam Rosa and Momo redesigns a new blueprint for a bright and pearlescent life together.