I came across an article about Sophie Loren, coming out of retirement to star in a movie directed by one of her sons, director Edoardo Ponti. Little did I know that the movie in question is adapted from a book that once caught my attention with its premise alone.
“The Life Before Us” or “Momo” by French author Romain Gary – who wrote it under the pseudonym “Emile Ajar” – is one of these old famous books that you know won’t disappoint. It’s not the first time that this book gets a screen adaptation, there even was a muscial, however Ponti’s penned this adaptation with Ugo Chiti (Gamorra, Tale of Tales) and Fabio Natale (Rafaël). Alongside Loren, newcomer Ibrahima Gueye stars, with Renato Carpentieri, Abril Zamora, Babak Karimi, Massimiliano Rossi, and Francesco Cassano rounding out the cast.
Premise: In seaside Italy, a 12-year-old Muslim Senegalese orphan Momo steals from an old woman in a Bari marketplace, unknowingly attacking the patient and friend of Dr. Cohen, the man who fosters him. The old woman, Madame Rosa, runs an unofficial daycare business for the children of prostitues. To both their surprise Dr. Cohen asks Madame Rosa to take the boy in for a little while, their proximity will make the two learn about each other and form a bond that will affect both of them.
Review: The trailer for this film is amazing, even if it seemed to tell a story that wasn’t very original. I mean it’s not the first movie where one or both protagonists “hate” each other to then find common ground. But this story and this adaptation has enough particularities to make this version worthwhile.
So much is inferred by the location, the coastal town, and backgrounds of both Momo and Madame Rosa. I quickly understood how they lived and what kind of hardship they faced and/or were facing. It becomes apparent that they’ve both had traumatic experiences in their lives. Rosa’s childhood somewhat mirrors Momo’s in their traumas and how they affect their lives. It’s the reason why they come to have a sense of trust, of understanding with each other and are able to form a bond. However, Ponti relies a little too much on what’s inferred to explain their bond, instead of shows us more of how it came to be.
Alongside the diversity of characters that very much contextualize and add flavor to the story, the performances do a lot of the heavy lifting. Both seasoned actors and new comers are able to convincingly convey the emotional arcs and personalities of their characters, and that’s particularly true for Loren and Gueye but for the supporting actors as well. As an assemble they really made that story feel true.
The Life Ahead is a beautiful film that will easily touch your heart and a reminder that love and understanding can go a long way to feel seen.
If you’re interested by the source material, it would be a great help of you get it from the link bellow: