This past Friday, Italian film “The Life Ahead,” based on the novel by Romain Gary, was released on Netflix. The film stars young actor Ibrahima Gueye and famous Italian actress Sophia Loren. The movie is directed by her son Edoardo Ponti.
Loren’s performance and the film overall have been getting somewhat good reviews from critics and have been generating some Oscar buzz. Does Loren or the film deserve to be nominated at the prestigious ceremony?
The answer is — it depends.
This film has the qualities of a good movie, but struggles in a few key areas.
To start, one of the film’s strengths is the acting. There are several child actors in this film and they all do a fantastic job. Gueye, the lead actor in the film, is really great. Though a few of his scenes could have been written better, Gueye does a great job at delivering an emotion-filled performance. Loren’s performance is generating some Oscar buzz for a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Loren is a long-time actress and won Best Actress at the 1962 Academy Awards. Many are saying this is going to be her last film performance, and that may propel her to a nomination. She’s very good in this movie, though I’m not sure if her performance is Oscar-worthy. One thing that may benefit her is the relative sparseness of the Oscar field this year, but I can’t say I can see her taking home the prize come next April.
Another strength of the film is its characters. Almost every character has a deep backstory, improving the realism of the picture. There is a transgender character in the film, played by transgender actress Abril Zamora, in a pretty major role which is fantastic to see. Overall, the characters are the ones who dictate the story, which is a sign of good storytelling.
That being said, the plot of this film could have been much better. The problem with this movie, as is with many films, is that it tries to do way too much. Instead of choosing two or three themes to tell a story about, it feels like this film chooses ten. There are so many different thematic storylines that it’s difficult to see a cohesive, thematic message at the end of the picture. It doesn’t help that the runtime is less than 90 minutes. The film should have cut a few storylines and extended others to create a more cohesive, less convoluted thematic story. The character development sometimes feels too quick, so cutting certain arcs could slow it down as well. This would keep the same runtime while improving the plot drastically.
So, is this film worthy of a nomination for Best International Feature Film? Italy only gets one film to submit to the Academy and there is a strong possibility that it will be this film. That being said, I am not an expert on modern Italian cinema and there very well could be another picture from this year that is more worthy of the nomination.
In conclusion, this film has strong aspects but struggles with its plot and thematic storyline. I would not recommend it for an Oscar nomination.