Nightjar
  • Paul Jameson

The Many Saints of Newark : A Review of Sorts

I'm a huge fan of the Sopranos. Loved everything about it. The characters, their quirks, the dark humour, broken personalities, drama, violence, tenderness and never ever knowing what was going to happen next. So I was really looking forward to The Many Saints of Newark, a film that promised a young Tony in the making. Now, I'd heard some troubling, unsupportive reviews but I remained openminded, excited.

Last night I watched it.

And I am conflicted.

Really! Conflicted.


For me, this was a film and tale of two sides.

Not two parts.

Two sides.


The film itself revolved less around Tony, focusing instead on Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher's father, who it quickly became apparent was something of a defining figure for the young and impressionable Tony. Not that this was really explored to any depth. A shame really. Regardless, I was quite happy to watch the exploits of Dickie, and his criminal, psychotic tendencies. However I became increasingly disgruntled at the introduction of favourite characters as young men from the Sopranos. Sadly, I found them to be poorly drawn caricatures at best, neither frightening nor funny, and not particularly relevant to the life of a young Tony. A great opportunity missed. Whether this was down to the writing or the acting, it's hard to tell.


Then there was the tale of Dickie. Overall it was quite good, particularly coming together at the end and making sense, but so too was it disjointed. There were characters that were seemingly not needed - his uncle being one. Indeed, I figured his father's twin brother was a figment of his own imagination at one point - which might have made more sense. Sadly, he wasn't. And at best Dickie remained aloof throughout, a shallow, superficial type without the connection one felt for Tony, Christopher, or indeed any of the crew in the Sopranos. So again another opportunity missed.


But now I come to the other side of the film.

The good part.

It left me wanting more.


Michael Gandolfini was brilliant as a teenage Tony. I want to see more of him. I want to know what happens to Tony in his twenties, what leads to the journey he takes, what leads to the man he becomes. I really want to know more about Tony. Similarly, there were a couple of other outstanding performances that carried the film to this end of wanting to know more and it not being worse. Michela De Rossi lifted the film as a love interest, a hopeful, optimistic immigrant in Giuseppina Moltisanti, and Leslie Odom Jr. as both Dickie's friend and antagonist in Harold McBrayer, left me wanting more of him. And then finally Corey Stoll as one irrepressible and psychopathic Junior Soprano - a weak, shallow, and dangerous man - one we didn't really see enough of. It was they helped carry the film.


So there you have it, a film of two parts for me.

Part good.

Part weak.

But.

Ultimately.

One that leaves me wanting more.


3 out of 5 stars for me.

 

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