The Many Saints of Newark
When David Chase’s iconic series The Sopranos reached its sixth and final season in 2007, it seemed that a follow-up to the story would be highly unlikely. 14 years after its last episode aired, the show’s creators found the perfect way to offer fans something new, without meddling with the plot and its finale. The Many Saints of Newark is a prequel depicting the formative years of protagonist Tony Soprano. Taking the action back in time adds further intrigue to the family saga and allows the making of a new chapter, in spite of the absence of James Gandolfini, who famously impersonated the protagonist and who passed away in 2013. In director Alan Taylor’s new film, the role of young Tony is filled by the late actor’s son, Michael Gandolfini.
Set in New Jersey in the late 1960s to early 70s, The Many Saints of Newark portrays the events that most affected Tony psychologically as an adolescent, revealing how he came to be the famed mobster of the series. The actual protagonist of the prequel, however, is Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), a family friend and distant relative whom Tony looks up to as an unlikely role model. The story begins with Dickie’s father, “Hollywood” Dick Moltisanti (Ray Liotta), returning from a trip to Italy with a new young wife. This event stirs up old and fresh feuds within the family, adding to the violence and criminal activity that surrounds Tony at all times, from which he stubbornly tries to steer away. Meanwhile, racial conflicts are rife on the streets and in the mob.
The Many Saints of Newark is a treat for fans of the series who will pick up on references to future events, and will likely enjoy seeing gaps in the backstory filled and some ambiguous facts clarified. As a standalone production, however, it is perhaps not punchy enough to shine in its own right. It does attempt to move beyond its main scope as prequel by outlining Dickie’s character rather well, and by portraying the sociopolitical climate that fuelled the protagonists’ propensity for rough ways. In most instances, however, the picture that emerges feels inauthentic and stereotypical, but overall the film proves to be entertaining and a valid addition to the Sopranos saga.
The Many Saints of Newark is released in select cinemas on 22nd September 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Many Saints of Newark here: