The Life Ahead (Italian: La vita davanti a sé) is a 2020 Italian drama film directed by Edoardo Ponti, from a screenplay by Ponti and Ugo Chiti. It’s the third screen adaptation of the 1975 novel The Life Before Us by Romain Gary. It stars Sophia Loren, Ibrahima Gueye and Abril Zamora, and is set in Bari, Italy.
Madam Rosa is a former prostitute and Jewish Holocaust survivor who provides a home in her apartment for the children of other “working women” in the port city of Bari, Apulia, Italy. After Momo, a 12-year old orphaned Senegalese immigrant, robs her, Dr. Coen, the boy’s foster father, who also happens to be Rosa’s doctor, brings her stolen items back and makes the boy apologize. Coen offers Rosa money to take in the boy and look after him for a couple of months, and she reluctantly agrees.
Momo, who has been kicked out of school for stabbing a bully with a pencil, secretly sells drugs for a dealer in Bari, but Rosa also finds him work with Hamil, a kind Muslim shopkeeper. All of these adults try to guide the boy. Rosa’s neighbor and friend, a prostitute named Lola whose daughter Rosa looks after, helps Rosa as she begins to decline mentally. At times she is lucid while at others she is catatonic.
Rosa and Momo develop a deep bond after he becomes her only ward. He quits selling drugs. She asks him to promise to keep her out of the hospital, and he agrees, but she is finally taken there after a particularly bad episode. Momo sneaks her out of the hospital at night and hides her in a basement room of her apartment building where she feels safe. After Rosa dies, Lola finally discovers their secret. The film ends with Rosa’s funeral.
Sophia Loren as Madame Rosa
Ibrahima Gueye as Momo
Abril Zamora [es] as Lola
Renato Carpentieri as Dr. Coen
Babak Karimi as Hamil
Massimiliano Rossi as drug dealer