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In these times of uncertainty, it’s important to focus on the good things in life—a Sunday drive, a delicious meal, an awe-inspiring sunset, and the fact that the great and wonderful Sophia Loren is finally in another movie! 

It’s been ten long years since the enduring beauty and soulful actress graced the silver screen in the 2010 TV movie My House Is Full of Mirrors. But on November 13th, Netflix is dropping The Life Ahead, a contemporary adaptation of La vie devant soi, a story about a Holocaust survivor, Madame Rosa, who provides day care for children of local prostitutes. Although she is worn out by her young charges, Madam Rosa takes in another street kid, an immigrant named Momo, after the boy snatches her purse in the market. What follows is a tale of love and connection, which reveals Madame Rosa’s horrific past.

Just think about it, Sophia has been acting in TV and film for over seventy years, and at eighty-six years of age, her turn as the indomitable Madame Rosa is already garnering Oscar buzz. Loren, of course, has some experience with the Academy Awards. That is, she won Best Actress for her performance in the 1961 film Two Women.

The Rome native was known back in the day as “The Italian Marilyn Monroe” who, with determination and focus, carved her own path as a striking beauty and international superstar. But it would be a mistake to assume things came easy to Loren. Indeed, her childhood was rather bleak. According to IMDb, “Her father, Riccardo Scicolone, was married to another woman and refused to marry her mother, Romilda Villani, despite the fact that she was the mother of his two children (Sophia and her younger sister Maria Scicolone). Growing up in the slums of Pozzuoli during the second World War without any support from her father, she experienced much sadness in her childhood.” 

Sophia’s mother and sister would go on to live with her grandparents; their home featured a bar where teenage Sophia would serve soldiers alcoholic beverages. But Loren learned many important lessons from her childhood. As she later reflected, she was blessed with two strokes of luck in her life: one was to be born wise, and the second was to be born into poverty.

“During the war in Pozzuoli, I would take refuge in movie houses and be immersed in all these amazing Hollywood films and daydream about all the Hollywood stars,” Loren recalls.

At the age of 16, the young looker entered a beauty contest where she met her future husband, the prolific Italian film producer Carlo Ponti. Ponti helped Loren develop her acting skills, and he found well-suited roles for the emerging talent. 

Throughout the fifties, Sophia lit up Italian cinema with her fearless charms and unfailing independence, and in the sixties and seventies she took Hollywood by storm starring alongside renowned actors like Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Gregory Peck, and Charlton Heston. And from the eighties and beyond, the Italian goddess dropped off the scene to raise her sons and spend time with her grandchildren. This epoch in her life apparently informed her later work, as she often played a protective mother or an indefatigable friend. 

And after a long life of film stardom and family bliss, Sophia is fulfilling a lifelong dream of working with her son, Edoardo Ponti. The two have teamed up on a few films over the last thirty years, but their most recent project looks to be another level of the game. Ponti directs The Life Ahead with delicate nuance and stirring emotion, and being he knows his mother so well, he is able to pull all of the emotion and bravura out of her with elegant simplicity and remarkable precision.

Sophia Loren is back, people! And her triumphant return is streaming this month on Netflix. Times are turbulent, but there is still a lot of beauty in the world. Just take a look at the interminable beauty of the skinny kid from Pozzuoli, Italy.