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The Many Saints of Newark

 
 
Film Information
 

Plot: Young Anthony Soprano is growing up in one of the most tumultuous eras in Newark's history, becoming a man just as rival gangsters begin to rise up and challenge the all-powerful DiMeo crime family's hold over the increasingly race-torn city.
Release Date: 22 September 2021
Director(s): Alan Taylor
Cast: Alessandro Nivola, Jon Bernthal, Michael Gandolfini
BBFC Certificate: 15
Running Time: 120 mins
Review By: Samuel Love
Film Genre: , ,
 
Film Rating
 
 
 
 
 
4.5/ 5


 

Bottom Line


With impeccable writing, some incredible performances and an excellent soundtrack, The Many Saints of Newark is a real treat that fans of the series will devour.


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Posted September 23, 2021 by

 
Film Review
 
 

David Chase’s seminal HBO series The Sopranos needs no introduction. Since its iconic final moments aired in the summer of 2007, fans have begged for more, and long-gestating rumours of a film have only built that hype. Now, 14 years on, Chase’s prequel film is finally here. 

Set from 1967 through to the early 1970s during a tumultuous time of tensions between the Italian-American and African-American communities, The Many Saints of Newark follows the teenage years of Tony Soprano (played here by the late James Gandolfini’s son, Michael) in the midst of a violent gang war. Despite being pushed as a standalone thriller, equally entertaining for fans and newcomers alike, The Many Saints of Newark is very much made for those who are familiar with the series. 

If you’re a fan, I’d avoid reading any more and get to the cinema as soon as you can to experience as much of it as possible blindly – those sweet moments of fan service are all the more entertaining when each one is fresh. But if you’re not, or perhaps just want a general (mostly) spoiler-free idea of what to expect, read on…

Helmed by Alan Taylor (no stranger to The Sopranos universe, having directed 9 episodes during its run) and written by Chase and returning collaborator Lawrence Konnor, the film looks and feels unmistakably Sopranos. Packed to the brim with in-jokes and references, the film often comes on a little strong with fan service – iconic catchphrases are a little heavy-handed, with Uncle Junior (a magnificent Corey Stoll) uttering the character’s trademark exclamation “your sister’s ****” not once but twice – but there’s something oddly emotional about seeing these characters and their world again. After so many years apart, seeing them again feels strangely comforting even when they’re engaging in such nefarious deeds. The cast are hit-and-miss – Vera Farmiga is flawless as Livia Soprano, impeccably capturing the mannerisms and delivery that Nancy Marchand made so iconic in the series, while John Magaro’s Silvio Dante resorts to caricature with a rather over-the-top impression that often feels a little laughable. 

The film’s focus is primarily on Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), the father of the series’ Christopher (Michael Imperioli, who narrates here) who was until now unseen, and the young Tony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini) – and it is their performances that shine. Both are magnificent in their roles, with Gandolfini in particular capturing his late father’s beloved performance effortlessly with an often uncanny effect. But, this is not initially the Tony we know – the majority of the film follows the Tony that still has some innocence and the potential for a life free of crime. The young Gandolfini captures this slow descent into violence remarkably, and offers up a wonderful tribute to his father.

There is much to say on The Many Saints of Newark, but I am still in such a surreal feeling of shock that the film has happened. After what feels like a decade of rumours, it still hasn’t sunk in that the film is out there at last, and that I have seen it. I need to see it again to drink it all in. But my initial thoughts are quite simple – The Many Saints of Newark is everything I hoped it would be. No more, no less. This is a magnificent and bombastic crime thriller that builds upon and develops the existing characters’ complex legacy while introducing some new faces to the tale. With impeccable writing, some incredible performances and an excellent soundtrack, The Many Saints of Newark is a real treat that fans of the series will devour. The chills I have felt from the second the end credits rolled are still there, and I expect they will be for a few days to come.


Samuel Love

 
Freelance writer. Email: samuel@smlcreative.co.uk


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