The Life Ahead parents guide

The Life Ahead Parent Guide

Netflix offers a surprisingly clear and concise drama with moving insights about the human condition.

Overall B+

Netflix: Madame Rosa survived the Holocaust and returned to Italy, eventually opening up a sort of community daycare. When a young man tries to rob her, instead of turning him over to the police, she takes him in. Although she hopes she can help him get his life back on track, it's going to be harder than she ever dreamed...

Release date November 13, 2020

Violence B
Sexual Content C+
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is The Life Ahead rated PG-13? The MPAA rated The Life Ahead PG-13 for thematic content, drug material involving minors, some sexual material and language.

Run Time: 94 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Although he left his native Senegal as an infant and has lived in Italy ever since, Momo (Ibrahima Gueye) has never quite managed to fit in. Things have deteriorated since the death of his mother, and Momo is now selling drugs purse-snatching to keep himself busy. This time, however, he has robbed the wrong woman - the intimidating Madame Rosa (Sophia Loren). Unfortunately for Momo, his social worker happens to be Madame Rosa’s doctor and recognizes the stolen goods, making an accounting (and an apology) inevitable. As the relationship between Madam Rosa and Momo develops, they find that they are not as different as they once thought – but life isn’t getting any easier for either of them.

If you’re like me, you hear the words “foreign drama” and imagine some well nigh interminable multi-hour dirge of European existentialism and probably nudity. Miraculously, this isn’t that. Clocking in at a modest 94 minutes, The Life Ahead knows the story it wants to tell and focuses clearly on it. Equally surprising is that the story itself is heartwarming without feeling clichéd or sentimental. Both Momo and Madame Rosa learn important lessons about other people’s needs and respecting people with different backgrounds and traumas.

Another mark in the plus column is the content, which skews remarkably mild. Admittedly, there are more extreme profanities than you’d usually see in a PG-13 rated film, but most of them are heard in a single song. Other profanities are quite limited. Most surprising for a European film is the complete lack of nudity – sure, most of the characters are prostitutes, but that’s about it for sexual issues. They’re not working on screen. The most unpleasant content are the depictions of a child selling drugs, but that’s unpleasant on purpose. The film is hardly endorsing that kind of behavior and portrays it extremely negatively as part of its overall moral lesson.

With standout performances from Sophia Loren and Ibrahima Gueye, The Life Ahead offers a surprisingly clear and concise drama, one which is tragic but not a tragedy, and surprisingly wholesome to boot. I wouldn’t recommend this for young children due to some mature subject matter, but older teens would benefit from this look at how the other half lives and struggles. It’s not often that Netflix puts out something this compelling, and if nothing else, you should watch this just to encourage Netflix in the right direction.

Directed by Edoardo Ponti. Starring Sophia Loren, Abril Zamora, and Babak Karimi. Running time: 94 minutes. Theatrical release November 13, 2020. Updated

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The Life Ahead
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Life Ahead rated PG-13? The Life Ahead is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic content, drug material involving minors, some sexual material and language.

Sexual Content: There are references to prostitution, and several characters are described as prostitutes. An adult sex toy is briefly seen.
Profanity:   There are six uses of extreme profanity and ten scatological terms. There are also infrequent mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are shown drinking at a party. An adult character is seen vaping nicotine. An adult character incites a child to sell drugs, which they are shown doing. An adult gives alcohol to a minor, who does not consume it.

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The Life Ahead Parents' Guide

Why does Momo struggle to get along with people? What has his life been like til this point? What do you think is the biggest influence on him living with Madame Rosa? What are the most important lessons he learns from her?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

A more child friendly option is The Thief Lord, which also features a rag-tag group of orphans who find themselves living a life of crime to get by in Italy – Venice, in this case. A post-war Italian classic about theft is The Bicycle Thief directed by Vittorio De Sica.