THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK (2021)
Captivating storytelling and a career-best performance from Alessandro Nivola elevates this excellent gangster story that just so happens to lay the foundation for the Tony Soprano we all know.
Crime families are on the rise in the late 60s and early 70s as Dicki Molisanti (Nivola), idolized by his young nephew Tony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini), works to balance his professional and personal responsibilities, set upon the backdrop of race riots that will further inflame tensions between Italian-Americans and African-Americans. The Many Saints of Newark is a deeply introspective, sensitive look at family, culture, and destiny with Gandolfini building upon the role established by his late father James through exploring the puzzle pieces that come together later in his life. The young actor approaches each scene with a raw innocence that is slowly corrupted in the shadow of his spiraling uncle. Nivola, for his part, delivers a character that is familiar in terms of the property, but fresh in that there was a blank slate for his creation. He largely carries the film as his character becomes increasingly tortured, more deeply morally skewed, and ultimately responsible for the confluence of young Tony’s clashing emotions that influence the future mob boss. Nivola plays Dickie with a charming intensity that sucks you in with his highly likable traits while simultaneously feeling for the tragedy peppered throughout his life (much like the original series).
Bringing the Sopranos back in any form was going to be a tall feat, yet series creator David Chase has found both an intriguing angle to exploring the world established years ago, complete with nods to well-known characters, and a relevance in the film’s setting that draws parallels to today. The costuming, the sets, and most of all the outstanding supporting cast, from Vera Farmiga to Ray Liotta and Jon Bernthal to Leslie Odom Jr., make The Many Saints of Newark a sure-fire hit, transporting you into the story from the very beginning.
The film does more than simply tell an incredibly satisfying story of the past, rather it also leaves you salivating for more… more stories, more character exploration, more Tony. Simply put, The Many Saints of Newark is a phenomenal cinematic experience that will please both diehard fans and newcomers alike.
The Many Saints of Newark opens in theaters and on HBO Max October 1st, 2021.
Photo from IMDb