“It was a novel that I’ve loved ever since I was a teenager,” says writer-director Edoardo Ponti about the 1975 book “The Left Before Us” by Romain Gary, which inspired Ponti‘s new Netflix film “The Life Ahead.” “I read it I think when I was 15, and then I read it again in my 20s, and what really inspired me first and foremost was the relationship … between these two completely different people … They could be no more different on the surface and yet really they’re just two opposite sides of the same coin. They’re both survivors.” Ponti recently joined us for our “Meet the Experts” writers panel. Watch our video interview above.
The film tells the story of Momo (Ibrahima Gueye), a Muslim orphan from Africa who is taken in by Madame Rosa (Sophia Loren), a Jewish Holocaust survivor and former prostitute. Loren also happens to be Ponti’s mother, and “the character reminded me not only of my mother, but she reminded me of my grandmother … the same irreverence, the same fragility.” They have in common that they’re “no-nonsense, sarcastic, somewhat cynical, but … wearing her heart on her sleeve.”
“First and foremost, the relationship between these two people is the heart of the book and had to be the heart of the film,” Ponti explains about how important it was to capture the love that develops between Momo and Rosa. It was also crucial to capture Momo’s unique voice and experience, since the novel is written from his perspective. “I think the most important thing is to be able to see life through the point of view of someone else … because being able to see life through the eyes of another is really, in the end, the beginning of empathy.”
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