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The Life Ahead(La vita davanti a sé)

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Italy · 2020
Rated PG-13 · 1h 34m
Director Edoardo Ponti
Starring Sophia Loren, Ibrahima Gueye, Renato Carpentieri, Diego Iosif Pirvu
Genre Drama

In seaside Italy, Rosa, a Holocaust survivor, forms an unlikely bond with Momo, a 12-year-old Senegalese orphan, after he robs her. A touching tale about friendship, family, and how the two overlap. The third screen adaptation of Romain Gary’s 1975 novel THE LIFE BEFORE US.

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What are critics saying?


The Globe and Mail (Toronto) by Barry Hertz

Ultimately, Ponti’s film survives on the one surprise that’s not much of a surprise at all: the power and majesty of his lead actress. And how did the director score such a casting coup? You’d have to ask his mother ... Sophia Loren.


Slant Magazine by Chris Barsanti

With its tough-minded characters from divergent cultures finding a common bond despite their differences, the film doesn’t deliver much in the way of surprises, but it turns out to be a starker and more honest piece of work than it might initially seem.


The Hollywood Reporter by David Rooney

Slipping into the flavorful Neapolitan accent of her early years, Loren creates a warm-blooded, grounded character, whose feistiness ebbs slowly as the ravages of age, ill health and painful memory take hold. It's a lovely performance, full of pathos, from an esteemed actress whose wealth of experience illuminates this touching human drama.


IndieWire by Eric Kohn

The Life Ahead is compelling enough to make the by-the-numbers narrative worth telling, if only because with such fine-tuned performances at its center, it deserves to be told.


Variety by Guy Lodge

The film, modest and often maudlin on its own storytelling terms, runs on a current of beyond-the-screen devotion that makes it compelling. Without that unquantifiable x-factor presence in the frame, it’s hard to say what reason this Netflix release would really have for being.


ABC News by Peter Travers

Get out your handkerchiefs. Directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, Sophia Loren, 86, returns to the screen after a decade to play a Holocaust survivor who raises the children of prostitutes. There is not a single false note in Loren’s magnificent performance. Just sit back and behold.


Chicago Sun-Times by Richard Roeper

While it is unabashedly sentimental and at times goes over the top with the symbolic melodramatic devices, it is a beautifully shot and heartwarming film, and the 86-year-old Loren is magnificent and regal and fierce and funny and beautiful and screen-commanding throughout.


Movie Nation by Roger Moore

Pairing Loren up with a child with this much spark, acting-up and acting-out, proves to be a winning formula for the film.


Screen Daily by Tim Grierson

Ponti fills this adaptation of the Romain Gary novel with an abundance of empathy, illustrating how all of us are nursing invisible psychic wounds, but the execution is so gauzy it never quite connects.

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