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The Life Ahead (2021)—ItalyThe Life Ahead (2021)—Italy

In this screen adaptation of the French novel The Life Before Us by Romain Gary (1975), Sophia Loren—age 86 and playing her first feature role in sixteen years, plays a former prostitute and Holocaust survivor named Madame Rosa. To earn some money, she cares for the children of the "working women" in a seaside Italian village—"it's better than the social services," she says. There's Babu, the son of a Spanish transgender sex worker named Lola (a former boxer), and then Iosif, an undocumented Romanian Jewish boy who's been orphaned by his mother. Into this mix comes a Muslim street kid and drug dealer from Senegal named Momo (Mohamed). We meet him in the first few minutes when he robs Madame Rosa, and then through a friend comes to live in her house. The house, fittingly enough, is called "the refuge." Madam Rosa and her charges make for a non-traditional but fully redemptive family. The film is directed by Edoardo Ponti, who is the son of Sophia Loren. The movie is in Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, and Romanian, with English subtitles.  I watched it on Netflix.

Dan Clendenin:

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