Too Many Saints
As far back as I could remember I always wanted to watch Gangster films. Francis Ford Coppola’s epic The Godfather set the standard for the genre, then came Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas which not only inspired the first sentence of this article but would also inspire TV Writer and Producer David Chase who used a lot of the aesthetics and tone of Scorsese’s masterpiece to create the multi-award-winning Organised Crime Drama - THE SOPRANOS which ran for six seasons from 1999 to 2007 and is now back in the form a new prequel movie called “THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK” This is my review on the film.
by Cameron Schuster I 26 October 2021
After the passing of actor James Gandolfini who played the fictional Mob Boss Tony Soprano, the rumors of a movie sequel quickly faded, much to the disappointment of disgruntled fans who felt they were robbed of a conclusion in the final episode of the Sopranos titled MADE IN AMERICA.
David Chase has again revisited the world of Tony Soprano in 2021 but set at a different time, 35-40 years before the events that take place in the TV Series and when Tony Soprano is a teenager while his Father Johnny Boy (Who is deceased during the TV series) along with his Uncle Junior “ran North Jersey” as capos in the Dimeo Crime Family. Ultimately, the film centers around a character that we never see in the Sopranos apart from an old framed sailor photograph and only hear about as the late legendary mafia soldier and father of Christopher named Dickie Moltisanti (played by Face-Offs Alessandro Nivola), as Sopranos fans will know is the childhood idol of Tony. Interestingly enough the name Moltisanti is translated as "Many Saints'' in Italian.
Going into the movie I knew that The Many Saints of Newark would be a gift to all Sopranos fans in which I say Thank You! But I also felt that hopefully, it would pass as a stand-alone film and not rely on extensive knowledge of the TV series for those that have not had the pleasure to grace their living room with the greatest TV series of all time. (The Wire comes in at a close second)
In the end, I felt the film catered to “only fans” of The Sopranos, we get to see the main characters of the TV Series as their younger selves. Including the young Tony Soprano played by the late Gandolfini’s real-life son Michael Gandolfini whose character plays nothing more than a minor plot device for the main focus and protagonist of the film. The other characters and younger versions of the TV Show
The film is separated into two parts, Firstly, we are introduced to Dickie Moltisanti, his gangster father and newlywed wife Giuseppina played by Italian actress Michela De Rossi. The setting is around the Newark Race Riots of 1967 which becomes a direct plot device for our antagonist Harold McBrayer played by Leslie Odom Jr. We see Tony Soprano as a young boy, likely to be in his Primary School years and his relationship with his “uncle” Dickie which we now know is the foundation to what Tony will become later on in life. In the second part of the film, we see Tony has grown up to be a teenager in his last year of High School, and the bad influence Dickie has on him starts to manifest in a couple of scenes. One of the few questions the TV Show has left fans are answered by the end of this film and I think fans will find this very interesting and clever as I did.
As a whole, the film plays out very unpredictably as with most Soprano episodes and the tension that builds when characters interact is exciting to watch. Seeing the young Silvio, Pussy and Pauly was pretty cool especially watching the young actors play the demeanors from their older versions perfectly. Alessandro Nivola (who played Nicholas Cage’s little brother Pollux Troy in Face/off) is electric when playing Dickie whose character is charming, well dressed, confident, sinister, and evil. In fact, I thought that Dickie’s attitude and personality reflected a lot like Tony in the TV Show which of course made sense from a fan’s standpoint, although I felt that there weren’t enough scenes involving the two characters to show this mentor/pupil dynamic. But, recently it seems Chase is in talks with HBO to produce another prequel film and possibly a TV Series of the Sopranos world so maybe fans will have more storylines to see how young Tony ends up the way he does.
If The Many Saints of Newark placed Tony on the path, the next films will move him forward towards the Tony Soprano we have come to watch every week in the early 2000s.
5 out of 5 stars (bias result)