Film Review – The Many Saints Of Newark

The Many Saints of Newark (MA)

Directed by: Alan Taylor

Starring: Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr, Vera Farmiga

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

HBO’s The Sopranos New Jersey mob boss anti-hero Tony Soprano (James Gandalfini) gets a backstory for the big screen in The Many Saints of Newark.

With his own thug father Johnny Soprano (Jo Bernthal) mostly in jail and out of the picture and his naggy mother Livia (Vera Farmiga) showing little affection, young Tony looks up to his charismatic mafia member uncle Dickie (Alessandro Nivola) as his mentor.

Dickie has a firm handle on the family business and shows young Tony the affection and attention a growing lad needs, but he has his own demons – particularly his inability to control his temper.

Deepening riffs in the family, Dickie shacks up with his young Italian step-mother Guiseppina (Michela De Rossi) which leads to a devastating fate for his father ‘Hollywood Dick’ Moltisanti (Ray Liotta).

Creating professional tensions in his life, Dickie’s former employee Harold (Leslie Odom Jr) breaks off to create his own rival black-led operation.

The Many Saints of Newark allows us to see the early influencing factors in Tony Soprano’s life from childhood through to his teenage years, and it is a good concept for fans of the show who may have wanted more after it ended.

But while what develops and unfolds here is supposed to be seen through the eyes of a young Tony Soprano, he is missing from quite a lot of the action.

Uncle Dickie is the main focus here with Tony barely registering as a cameo character and the link between what goes on in the family and what he actually witnesses and experiences is weak at best.

That aside, the 1960s and 70s setting, characters and dynamics set up are intriguing enough to hold your attention – even for those who have not seen the series.

Vera Farmiga steals the entire show right from under her male counterparts as the annoying mob boss wife, bringing a special spark to a role that has been an after-thought character for decades in mafia stories.

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