Certificate – 15
Directed By – Alan Taylor
Starring – Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Michael Gandolfini, Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Billy Magnussen, Corey Stoll, John Magaro, Gabriella Piazza, Michela De Rossi.
Running Time – 120 Minutes (2 Hours)
I went into seeing The Many Saints of Newark knowing bugger all about The Sopranos besides how it ends and the fact it’s one of the most popular TV shows in history.
This film is a prequel to the people who influences Tony Soprano into the man he will become. Growing up during one of the most tumultuous eras in Newark’s history as rival gangsters begin to rise up and challenge the all-powerful DiMeo crime family’s hold over the increasingly race-torn city.
The most significant influence on young Anthony (Gandolfini) is Dickie Moltisanti (Nivola), who struggles to manage his professional and personal responsibilities.
As I mentioned above, I never saw a single episode of The Sopranos (until last night when I watched the plot), so what I was watching was a decent 70s gangster film with some brilliant performances.
The two that took centre stage were Nivola and especially Odom Jr, to the point I want a film or mini-series focused on his character Harold McBrayer.
I loved his story of becoming his own man and would’ve loved to seen him and his former boss Moltisanti go into war. Maybe in the possible sequel as we continue to see Soprano grow.
Meanwhile, I was glued whenever Nivola was on screen as you see the pressure of doing the devils work and being a saint of the city whilst turning into the man he hoped he wouldn’t, his dad Aldo ‘Hollywood Dick’ (Ray Liotta).
This isn’t a young Tony Soprano story, but when we do meet the young man, Gandolfini does a wonderful job. You can see the duality he faces of not wanting to be in the same business as his family and uncles, but you can see what his bond with Dickie does by forging his path.
Gandolfini lays the foundations of what his dad would become, and no one could play the character better.
The supporting cast does a terrific job with Farmiga chewing up every scene and having wonderful chemistry with Bernthal. Stoll is great as someone with a jealously and superiority complex against the other gangsters.
I’d also like to mention Billy Magnussen, who looked unrecognizable throughout the film and only knew when the credits started rolling.
It’s not all clean-cut as the story keeps switching between the Moltisanti and McBrayer stories, and it’s easy to get lost. However, if you’re a fan of the show, you’re going to love it and get so much more than I could in this first watch.
I hope I will once I watch the whole series and notice more in the film on rewatch.
While I might have been lost, Chase’s writing is great, and you can tell how strongly he knows the characters and backstories. It’s an important showcase to inspiring writers that flushing out an entire history of your characters can add so much to the overall story.
I do hope Chase continues as he’s got plenty to play to continue to build this world.
If you’ve never seen The Soprano, go a see a brilliant gangster film. If you are a fan, you’re going to have a ball with great performances from Nivola, Odom Jr, Gandolfini and Farmiga.