‘Sopranos’ movie spin-off is a success


When one sees a movie, what makes it truly great? Is it a good cast of actors? Phenomenal special effects? Or is it the perfect blend of all of the above? Well the 2021 movie “The Many Saints of Newark” hits all of the categories. 

The movie is a spinoff of the hit HBO television series, “The Sopranos.” The TV show aired from 1999-2007 and featured the late and great James Gandolfini as the antihero Tony Soprano. 

The main character that the film focuses on is not Tony Soprano, but his mentor, Richard “Dickie” Moltisanti. The character was mentioned numerous times in the TV show, but was never seen until the movie was released. 

The character Dickie Moltisanti was played by Alessandro Nivola. Nivola did a phenomenal job portraying a character who no viewer had any idea about what they were like. For just two hours, this film clearly shows who Dickie was. 

This film was directed by Alan Taylor, who directed movies such as “Terminator Genisys,” “Thor: The Dark World,” and numerous episodes of the series. 

The movie takes place over 1967-1977. African American tensions with the police force and the gangs that controlled Newark was definitely a key part in the film. 

When shooting a period correct film numerous directors have oversights. Whether it be an incorrect cigarette box, or a modern era car in the wrong place, they spring up. This film went to great lengths to avoid oversights. Every car, jacket, bus, and hairstyle matches the era that director Alan Taylor wanted to show.

The filming locations also were redressed to appear in the era that they are meant to represent. Holsteins, famously used in the final episode of the series, was redressed to match the 70’s appearance. Complete with period correct glasses and Coke bottles. 

Expressing emotions set by another actor is tricky, but all actors did perfect playing each part with a consummate professionalism that gave the film a big boost

The character of Tony Soprano was not elaborated on in the film, but the series had six seasons to develop the character. 

A possible downside of the film was the use of cheap gags that were known to longtime viewers of the series far too much. “He never had the makings of a varsity athlete” is one of them. Using those gags seemed far too forced and didn’t feel right to have been said during a family dinner. 

Jon Bernthal plays Johnny Boy Soprano, Tony’s father. The character was played in the series (in flashbacks) by the late Joseph Siravo. Bernthal plays Siravo’s character skillfullyl, taking into account the mobster temper that both characters noticeably had. 

A fan favorite character of the series, Livia Soprano, was played by Nancy Marchand in the series, and by Vera Farmiga in the film. Playing a gangster’s wife is no easy task, and both actresses played them well. The character was an evil person in the series, and Mrs. Farmiga plays the mentally -ill and meddling mother well. 

The calm, yet cool character of Silvio Dante was played by Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist, Steven Van Zandt in the series, and John Magaro in the film. Both actors did an excellent job playing a character that keeps cool despite the fury that surrounds them. 

Playing the character of Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri is the character actor Billy Magnussen. Magnussen tackles all of the character’s quirks and mannerisms, including pointing with an Italian malocchio and a ruthless but fiercely loyal character. Magnussen did a great job playing a humorous and violent character. 

The cherry on top for all the performances was Michael Gandolfini, who is the son of the late and great James Gandolfini. The elder Gandolfini played the character of Tony Soprano, an incredibly complex character, and made an audience love a villain and Sunday nights. The portrayal was perfect to every degree. 

The younger Gandolfini did a great job. He already had a big plus by looking like his father, but he also had matched the temper and the fury of the elder Gandolfini’s character. 

Critics have been varied on the opinions of the film, some loving, and some not so much. But this film without a doubt is a great picture. Actors, plot, and setting all pulled the weight and should direct this film to award shows.