×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sophia Loren Returning to the Screen in ‘The Life Ahead’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Oscar-winning actress Sophia Loren is back in front of the camera for her first feature film in a decade, directed by her son Edoardo Ponti in a movie in which she plays Madame Rosa, a Holocaust survivor who forges a bond with a 12-year-old Senegalese immigrant boy named Momo.

The film, titled “La vita davanti a sé” (“The Life Ahead”), is an adaptation of Romain Gary’s novel “La vie devant soi,” which was previously adapted for the big screen by Israeli filmmaker Moshe Mizrahi as “Madame Rosa,” starring Simone Signoret. That film won the 1978 foreign-language Oscar.

Loren, 84, plays the same role as Signoret, though Ponti said the two adaptations are very different. The film has begun shooting in Italy. Loren, who is working 10-hour days, said she is allowing herself to “express things on screen in a way that I think audiences will find very surprising.”

She added that her son wouldn’t settle for anything but her best. “He knows me so well. He knows every inch of my face, my heart, my soul. He will only move on to the next shot when I hit my deepest truth,” she said.

Ponti, who is directing his illustrious mother for the third time, declared her to be in great form.

“At 84 she wants to put it all on the line to make a movie that is so deep, so challenging, both emotionally and physically,” he said. “The energy and passion with which she approaches every scene is a marvel to watch.”

The rest of the cast comprises transgender Spanish actress Abril Zamora (“Locked Up”), Italy’s Renato Carpentieri (“Tenderness”) Iran’s Babak Karimi (“The Salesman”) and non-professional child actor Ibrahima Gueye, who plays Momo.

While Mizrahi’s work is told through the point of view of Madame Rosa, “our movie follows the point of view of the book, which is Momo,” Ponti said. The film is set in the present in the southern Italian port city of Bari and works on different levels, said Ponti.

The first is the story of love and friendship between Madame Rosa and Momo, two people who could not be more different “culturally, generationally, racially, religiously,” Ponti said. “And yet they are cut from the same cloth of pain and having been brought up in the streets.”

The second level is that it’s “the story of a modern family,” Ponti added.

Madame Rosa is a Holocaust survivor and the head of this family. “Her three children essentially are a 35-year-old transgender [woman], a 12-year-old Senegalese street kid, and a 10-year-old Romanian street kid.”

Then there is the political level, “which is almost unnecessary to bring up…because it is baked into every frame,” Ponti said, but it’s not explicit. “It’s best for us to focus on the characters, to focus on the emotions…and then it’s up to the audience to talk about the politics behind them.”

The plan is for “Life Ahead,” which is produced by Italy’s Palomar with some equity financing from U.S. investors, to be ready in March 2020.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Gina Rodriguez'Someone Great' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Gina Rodriguez Apologizes After Rapping N-Word in Deleted Instagram Video

    “Jane The Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez has released an apology video shortly after she used the N-word while rapping along to a Fugees song in a video posted to her Instagram story. In the original video, which has since been deleted, Rodriguez raps along to “Ready or Not” while having her hair and makeup done. [...]

  • After a Revolution

    Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund Winners Announced

    The Tribeca Film Institute and Gucci announced on Tuesday this year’s recipients for the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund. Now in its 12th year, TFI and Gucci have awarded $140,000 in grant funding, covered by Gucci, to support nine documentaries highlighting domestic and international matters, with a focus on female-led stories and filmmakers. The funding will [...]

  • countdown

    Apple Takes Down Viral 'Countdown' Horror App, STX Brings It to Android Instead

    An app that can predict the date and time of your death may have been too much for Apple to stomach: The iPhone maker removed a viral app inspired by the upcoming horror movie “Countdown” a few days ago, putting an end to its meteoric rise. Before its removal, “Countdown” had surpassed TikTok, YouTube and [...]

  • Babyteeth Eliza Scanlen

    Eliza Scanlen Drama 'Babyteeth' Lands at IFC for North America (EXCLUSIVE)

    IFC Films has acquired North American rights to the drama “Babyteeth,” starring Eliza Scanlen, Essie Davis, Ben Mendelsohn, and Toby Wallace, Variety has learned exclusively. The film had its world premiere in competition at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival, where Wallace won the Marcello Mastroianni award for best new young performer. It will be [...]

  • Neil Patrick Harris arrives at night

    'Matrix 4': Neil Patrick Harris Lands Role in Latest Installment (EXCLUSIVE)

    Neil Patrick Harris is the latest addition to the ensemble cast for the upcoming fourth installment of the “Matrix” franchise. He joins Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, who will be reprising their roles in the film, as well as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who was tapped as one of the leads last week. Plot details are [...]

  • Amanda Seyfried attends a special screening

    Amanda Seyfried Joins Gary Oldman in David Fincher's 'Mank'

    Amanda Seyfried is set to join Netflix’s “Mank,” David Fincher’s latest biopic revolving around “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, with Gary Oldman tapped to play the titular role. Lily Collins, Charles Dance, Tuppence Middleton, Arliss Howard, Ferdinand Kingsley, Jamie McShane, Joseph Cross, Sam Troughton, Toby Leonard Moore, Tom Burke, and Tom Pelphrey will also appear [...]

  • Cuba Gooding Jr

    Cuba Gooding Jr. Accused of Groping 14 Women at Bars and Clubs

    Prosecutors on Tuesday accused Cuba Gooding, Jr., of a long-standing pattern of approaching unfamiliar women in bars and kissing, pinching, biting or groping them. Gooding appeared in court in Manhattan for an arraignment on four misdemeanor counts of forcible touching and third degree sexual abuse. He pleaded not guilty, and is due back in court [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content