Whether you’re a fan of the Sopranos or not, it’s a solid story of gangsters and morals.
By Shea VassarPublished September 28, 2021
The Sopranos is known for revolutionizing television with its character-led narratives and commentaries on morality. The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel film to The Sopranos, brings together veterans of the series Alain taylor as director and David chase and Laurent Konne as co-writers to expand the universe of the series through the perspective of Dickie Moltisanti (Alexander Nicola). Moltisanti means “many saints” in Italian, hence the title, adding a layer of irony to the illegal activities and outright torture in which the DiMeo crime family is involved. The film works well on its own, making this new release a solid genre film as well. like a prequel story.
Welcome to New Jersey in the late 1960s, where Italian gangsters like Dickie wear dress jackets, waxed shoes, and slicked back hair. They are worn with a certain air of class and prestige, evident in their beautiful cars and the sumptuous outfits that their wives and mistresses wear for their evenings. Their dapper exterior allows unsavory acts, including murder, to go unsuspected despite the gossip around town.
A riot breaks out after Newark Police kill a black man in broad daylight, and as fire and smoke build up over the city, the sages use this opportunity to get away with crimes that can be imputed to looters. Harold (Leslie Odom Jr.), who runs Dickie’s business in the predominantly black part of town, is forced to flee after being falsely accused of murder. His absence may be out of sight, out of the minds of Dickie and his crew, but the racial tensions that are introduced motivate Harold to return years later, creating a new contender for the DiMeo family.
Over the years, Dickie’s nephew, Tony (Michel Gandolfini) quietly watched his uncle while his own father, Johnny, weathered. Despite his admiration for Dickie, Tony dreams of playing professional football. He is reluctant to get involved in the family business, even wondering if he should accept stolen speakers for his record player. But as Dickie deals with Harold’s return to New Jersey, he realizes that his presence in Tony’s life could be the worst thing for the kid, confusing the teenager who doesn’t know. not why his uncle suddenly became so distant.
The Many Saints of Newark is best when trying to fill The Sopranos the universe without counting on nostalgia. Seeing how Tony idolizes his uncle, first as a child, then as a teenager, brings new layers to the beloved characters Chase brought to life fourteen years ago. Nivola has been given a huge challenge to bring to life someone who exists in as much infamy as Dickie Moltisanti, and his screen-controlled electricity truly complements the officially unseen legend.
The recurring comic relief comes in the form of Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri (Billy Magnussen) and Silvio Dante (Jean Magaro). These iconic characters are fan favorites of the original series who are known to bring natural humor to seasons filled with death, trauma and intense therapy sessions. The movie version of those two, however, is a cheap knockoff, bringing uneven Three Stooges-like gags to a film that has an overall serious tone.
Not all familiar names meet with such lazy handwriting in The Many Saints. Corey stollThe personification of Corrado âJuniorâ Soprano Jr. is iconic, showing just how awkward and awkward this future head of the family has always been. And we can’t talk about Junior without thinking of Livia who is brilliantly animated by Vera Farmiga. Fans of the original series know that Livia is at the root of so many of Tony’s insecurities later in life. Farmiga’s constant harassment pays homage to the original portrayal of Nancy Marchand while adding depth to a woman who has only been seen as a pain in the ass.
There’s one particular scene where teenage Tony talks with the school guidance counselor, an obvious call to the many moments with Dr. Melfi in The Sopranos. When Livia arrives at school, she is annoyed that she has to be there. She tells the guidance counselor to hurry because she is parked in front of a fire hydrant. But soon, the adviser’s praise for her son’s intelligence and potential to be a leader shatters that harsh exterior that Livia has built to protect herself after years of being a gangster wife. Farmiga’s eyes allow some sentimentality to be seen for a brief second, before she again uses the fire hydrant as an excuse to cut the conversation short.
While Tony Soprano may not be the protagonist of this previous story, the inclusion of Michael Gandolfini as the teenage version of the gangster his late father brilliantly played for eighty-six episodes from 1999 to 2007 is a major attraction for the film. It captures Tony’s ways that viewers of the show are familiar with: the way his shoulders curl when seated, his smile when he says something clever, his overwhelming confidence that shines despite his unstable family life. . The young Gandolfini embodies a childlike innocence that we only occasionally see in The Sopranos, like when Tony talks about his ducks.
Although the writing in The Many Saints of Newark is decent and the cast is spectacular, the most obvious flaw here is the editing. Too many shots are cut too soon, disrupting any emotion that develops, and it feels forced as the film tries to cram too many plot points into its two-hour duration.
Making a film set in 1967 in Newark means that the racial tensions that arose in days of protest are looming in the background, ready to appear. However, we have the impression The Many Saints of Newark include them only by obligation. Racial injustice in this country is not just a bottom-up event, especially in cities like Newark. The storyline tries to address and include more than it can handle by focusing too much on adding context to existing Sopranos characters while leaving no room for newcomers like Hiccup. A longer movie that would have allowed those storylines to marinate would have been better than a movie that feels so rushed.
The most interesting aspect of The Many Saints of Newark is the ongoing commentary on male relationships, especially when it comes to the uncle-nephew connection. Seeing Tony’s respect for his uncle Dickie from an early age further nuances his relationship with his own nephew and Dickie’s son, Christopher Moltisanti (Michel ImpÃ©rioli). This is no coincidence, as Chase’s expertise in relationship arcs is always in the spotlight. Christopher even tells from beyond the grave and offers a major spoiler on his fate in the series.
A lot of The Many Saints of Newark appeals to other crowd flicks like Goodfellas and even a little The Godfather, but he also quietly continues the deconstruction that takes place throughout The Sopranos. Comparisons to the series are going to happen, especially since the film’s tagline is “A Sopranos Story,” but while the film isn’t at the series level, it’s a fun watch that will add to the love for a world they already know – or serve as an engaging introduction to characters so many people already adore. Either way, it’s a decent watch that offers new insight into the lives of characters we thought we knew.
Related subjects: The Many Saints of Newark, The Sopranos
á£á³á© cinephile and big fan of coffee, cats and the OKC Thunder.