<script async src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script> <!-- Showbiz Portal Bottom 1 300x250, created 10/15/10 --> <ins class="adsbygoogle" style="display:inline-block;width:300px;height:250px" data-ad-client="ca-pub-1272644781333770" data-ad-slot="2530175011"></ins> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); </script>
Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Feb 9, 2021



THERE WERE many Italian actresses who made it big in Hollywood like Gina Lollobrigida, Anna Magnani, Virna Lisi, Monica Vitti, Claudia Cardinale, but no one is as big as Sophia Loren who won the Oscar best actress award for “Two Women”. 

We were just a boy when we first saw her in “Boy on a Dolphin”, her Hollywood debut in 1956, and we were so awed by her larger-than-life presence. Nagmumura talaga on screen!!!!

She played a deep sea diver who accidentally found the ancient Greek statue of a boy riding on a dolphin in the bottom of the sea. She took Hollywood by storm and did one movie after another, paired with the top actors of that era. 

She was paired with Cary Grant in “The Pride and the Passion” in 1957 and “House Boat” in 1958. They were romantically linked, but Sophia chose to marry producer Carlo Ponti instead, even if he’s 21 years older than her.  

She also did “Desire Under the Elms” with Anthony Perkins, “Heller in Pink Tights” with Anthony Quinn, “El Cid” with Charlton Heston, “The Millionairess” with Peter Sellers, “Man of La Mancha” with Peter O’Toole, “Arabesque” with Gregory Peck, “Countess from Hongkong” with Marlon Brando, the spectacular “The Fall of the Roman Empire” with Stephen Boyd, Alec Guinness and Christopher Plummer, plus many more. 

She decided to slow down to devote more time to her two sons: Carlo Jr. and Edoardo. 

Edoardo became a filmmaker and first directed her in “Between Strangers” in 2002. He now gets to direct her again in the Netflix film “The Life Ahead”, the third film based on the 1975 French novel of Romain Gary, “The Life Before Us”. 

The first was made in 1977, titled “Madame Rosa”, set in Paris and starring French actress Simone Signoret. It won the Oscar best foreign language film plum. 

The second was a TV movie made in 2010. And then there’s also a Broadway musical in 1987.

The film, now set in an Italian city by the sea, is narrated by Momo (Ibrahima Gueye), a black orphan boy from Senegal. So many African refugees have really moved to Europe in droves. In the first film, the boy was from Algiers. 

Momo snatched the bags of Madame Rosa (Sophia Loren) while she’s in the market. But his foster dad, Dr. Coen (Renato Carpentieri), forces him to return the bags to Madame Rosa and say sorry to her. Dr. Coen has to leave and asks Rosa to take care of Momo while he’s away. 

At first, Rosa says no, but Dr.Coen says he will pay her and she agrees. Momo is a hustler and drug pusher who is at first hostile to her and her other wards, but he eventually warms up to them. 

He learns that Rosa is Jewish, a survivor of the Holocaust who later became a prostitute. Now old, she has become a babysitter for the kids of other prostitutes. 

In their apartment building, she has a small enclave where she keeps mementoes of her past. 

Her health steadily deteriorates with the onset of dementia and while she’s in a hospital after an episode of disorientation, she asks Momo not to let her just die in a hospital. He complies and takes her back to her hideout in their apartment.

The material is really familiar as we’ve seen so many films about the friendship between a child and an older person, like “Central Station”, “Kolya”, the animated film “Up”, “Mary Poppins”, “Moonlight”, “Karate Kid”, the very recent “News of the World”, and others. 

The big difference of “The Life Ahead”, of course, is that it stars Sophia Loren. Now 86 years old, she’s no longer the buxom sex goddess of yesteryears, but time has added so much gravitas to her role as a German concentration camp survivor and erstwhile prostitute.

Some people younger than her are now infirm and doddering, but Sophia remains upright and sprightly, walking around by herself. 

Simone Signoret was made to look fatter and older when she played the same role. Sophia’s grace, star wattage and majestic presence remains undiminished. 

The movie means well as her son’s valentine to her acting talent and formidable reputation as one of the top actresses the world has ever known. 

The film can be manipulative and predictable that one is left hoping for more, but Loren’s sheer screen presence alone makes it worth watching. 

Child actor Gueye gives a touching performance as the troubled, seemingly callous but vulnerable boy and giving colorful support is Abril Zamora as a transgender prostitute whose daughter is also under Rosa’s care. But this remains to be Loren’s film and it’s a pleasure to see her again, the true living screen legend that she is.