Friday, November 13, 2020

Movie with Abe: The Life Ahead

The Life Ahead
Directed by Edoardo Ponti
Released November 13, 2020

Experiences affect perspectives, and a person shouldn’t be expected to espouse the same values and beliefs throughout their life. There can be a wondrous optimism – or crushing negativity – that comes during childhood, and gradual developments continue to influence how a person interacts with the world around them. Harrowing moments can be formative and defining in ways that others may not be able to understand, and attempting to do so without the proper context and clarity can be demeaning and met with bitterness. Ultimately, those who are extremely unalike may be able to teach other plenty to enrich each other’s lives.

Momo (Ibrahima Gueye), a twelve-year-old orphan from Senegal, steals valuable candlesticks from Madame Rosa (Sophia Loren) while she is trying to sell them at a market in Italy. His guardian, who is unable to take care of Momo, suggests that Momo will benefit from staying with the Holocaust survivor and former prostitute, who has already taken in several children of other local prostitutes to raise as her own. Both are initially opposed to the arrangement, and Madame Rosa has little patience for Momo’s lack of manners, though they gradually begin to grow fond of each other.

This film is an affirming and engaging story of an unlikely friendship, one that finds its two parties equally uninterested in taking the time to see what the other has to offer. They are both full of spunk, constantly complaining and expressing their desire to be rid of each other. Madame Rosa takes care of those who have no one else to look out for them, and she sees Momo, who impresses a local drug dealer with his remarkable selling abilities, as more of a menace than someone who could use her help. Momo knows what he wants, and he doesn’t want anyone, especially not an old lady he doesn’t like, telling him what to do.

This film benefits from great writing and great acting, with the eighty-six-year-old Loren delivering a formidable lead performance opposite an astounding debut from Gueye. There are also rich supporting characters, including a supportive neighbor and a kindly store owner who tries to help them Momo on the right path. Though some of its plot may be reminiscent of other films about growth and unlikely pairings, this film stands out as a vibrant and lovely portrait of a complicated relationship between two strong-willed individuals who couldn’t objectively be more different.


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