The Many Saints of Newark Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Showrunner David Chase’s The Sopranos ran from 1999 to 2007 and ran for six seasons, with David shutting it down at its peak. (And rightly so, of course.) The series told about the life of a mafia clan from northern New Jersey, the main role – the head of the mafia “Family” Tony Soprano – was played by actor James Gandolfini.

Despite the fact that in The Sopranos there was a so-called “open ending” – according to the plot, it seems that Tony should have been killed, but the audience was not shown the murder – David Chase has repeatedly said that he does not plan to continue the series. In 2017, a decade after the end of The Sopranos’ final season, David Chase announced that he was ready to do a prequel to the series that would follow Tony’s youth, Chris Moltisanti’s father Dicky, and other characters, including several characters. from the series. Also, the storyline will be connected with the riots in Newark in 1967, when the police arrested and beat a black taxi driver, after which protests began from African Americans and attacks on police stations (Chase witnessed these events personally, as he told).

The script was written by David Chase himself and Lawrence Konner, who worked on The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and many other films and TV shows. Alan Taylor was invited to the directors: he directed several episodes of The Sopranos, he also directed the extremely mediocre films Terminator Genisys and Thor 2: The Dark World.

About the plot of the film.

America, 1967, Newark, New Jersey. Richard Moltisanti, known as Dicky (Alessandro Nivola), Johnny Boy Soprano (Jon Bernthal) and his brother Junior Soprano (Corey Stoll) work for the DiMeo Mafia “family”. Tony Soprano is still small, he is only twelve years old. Johnny Soprano is not interested in his son at all, and Tony is more and more drawn to “Uncle Dicky” – Dicky Moltisanti, who clearly likes the boy and favors him, although, strictly speaking, they are not any relatives.

Dickie’s father, Aldo Moltisanti, nicknamed “Hollywood Dick” (Ray Liotta), returns from a trip to Italy. From Italy, he returned with a new wife – a young Italian Giuseppina Bruno (Michela De Rossi). Giuseppina seems to be now Dicky’s stepmother, but he immediately, as they say, “sunk down” on her, and it seems that this will not lead to anything good: Aldo has a very difficult and explosive character, but Dicky is not inferior to him in this.

Meanwhile, riots among blacks begin in the city, and a certain Harold McBrayer (Leslie Odom Jr.), Dicky’s black assistant, actively participates in these riots. Later, Harold will create his own criminal organization from African Americans in the city, and they will try to squeeze out part of the territory from the DiMeo “family”, as a result of which all sorts of armed conflicts will begin between these gangs, and Harold will enter into an open confrontation with Dicky Moltisanti.


The original title of the painting, The Many Saints of Newark, obviously plays on the Italian surname Moltisanti, which, in general, means “Many Saints”, however, since the surnames are not translated, the United Statesn-language version of the title, it seems to me, should have been something something like “Many Santi Newark” or “Moltisanti Newark”, otherwise all these “Multiple Saints” are somehow slightly in the wrong steppe: they would have called “Multiple Wounds of Newark”, it would have been more competent, and there were enough wounds like the murders.

The beginning of the film is peculiar. The whole story begins to tell Chris Moltisanti, the son of Dicky. He tells it from the grave, where in the series “The Sopranos”, as you know, Uncle Tony laid him down (he had certain reasons for this, but we will not be distracted by this). Chris from the Grave is voiced by actor Michael Imperioli, who played Chris in the series, and is the only original series actor to appear in the film (albeit only as a voice).

David Chase has said that he wanted to concentrate on Tony Soprano’s younger years, but the central character here is Dicky Moltisanti, whom Tony treated with great respect and who was noticeably influenced by Dicky. (Dicky was mentioned in the show: Tony mentioned him several times, but, as far as I remember, without much detail.)

In the picture they show who Dicky was, what he did, how he tried to do good deeds, but often did all sorts of vile things (well, a bandit, a mafia), how he influenced Tony and what little Chris got from his character, who here it is in the form of a baby: after Aldo’s return from Italy and Johnny and Junior Soprano’s imprisonment, the action jumps four years to show Johnny’s return from prison, when, just recently, little Chris was born to the Moltisanti family.

We are shown Dickie’s romance with Giuseppina, Dickie’s showdown with his former employee, and now the head of a rival gang, Harold McBrayer, Dickie’s meeting with his father’s twin brother Sally (Ray Liotta), who received a life sentence for the murder of one criminal authority, and all that stuff .

Dicky is played by Alessandro Nivola (I recently saw him in one of the main roles in a rather unusual author’s film “The Art of Self-Defense”), and he is very good here, I liked him. It has both charisma and a certain chic (Dicky always dresses well), and a slight madness that Dicky can fall into under the influence of some circumstances. Well, I note that Nivola here was terribly reminiscent of the type of actor Damian Lewis from “Billions” and many other films and TV shows.

Sixteen-year-old Tony Soprano is played by James Gandolfini’s son Michael: he is very similar to his father, but it is still difficult to say anything about his acting abilities, because, frankly, Michael has little to play here. Yes, and it is clear that building a full-length picture around the life of a twelve-year-old, and then a sixteen-year-old teenager makes little sense, so his environment is shown more here.

First of all, Uncle Dicky, and then everything else – Johnny’s father, who is not at all interested in his son, Livia’s mother, who has no intimacy with her son (actress Vera Farmiga was made up so that she became very similar to actress Edie Falco, who played in in the series, Tony’s wife Carmela – yes, the Oedipus complex is present there in full), here Tony organizes gambling at school and is kicked out, here the psychologist of another school tells Livia that Tony has a high IQ and that he is a natural leader.

But we already knew all this more or less from the series: in my opinion, it would be more interesting to show his development as the boss of the “family” from New Jersey, but in this case, David Chase decided to focus on something else. However, I read in an interview that David liked the way Michael played this role so much that he is thinking about continuing the sequel, where, perhaps, Tony’s becoming the boss will be shown – we’ll wait.

The young prototypes of some of the “family” characters from the series also appear here – Paulie Galtieri (played by Billy Magnussen), Pussy Bonpensiero (Samson Moeakiola) and Silvio Dante (John Magaro famously portrayed the characteristic demeanor of Silvio, played in the series by Steve Van Zandt).

One of the best roles in this film was played by Ray Liotta, and not the role of Aldo Moltisanti, although Aldo is also good, but his twin brother Sally – Liotta was really excellent there: Sally, with his lifelong, has a somewhat philosophical outlook on things, at first he is offended that Dicky has not visited him for many years, but later the relationship between uncle and nephew gradually warms up.

Well, what did they get out of all this? Is it really a bad movie, like Bublik the cat said? No, it’s not a bad movie. He has certain problems with the script and production, he is not even close to the level of the cult series, he is also not close to the level of Martin Scorsese films, which the director obviously imitates, he is unlikely to be liked by people who have not watched the series. (Is there really such a thing?!)

However, I did not expect anything like this from the prequel, so I can say that I liked it. The picture is completely optional for viewing, but I watched it not without pleasure. Alessandro Nivola is very good, Ray Liotta is very good, and Michael Gandolfini clearly has his potential as an actor. If David Chase starts a continuation of this prequel in a few years, it could turn out to be interesting. Or maybe not – we’ll see.

The Sopranos / The Many Saints of Newark review

Director: Alan Taylor Cast: Alessandro Nivola, Michael Gandolfini, Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Billy Magnussen, Corey Stoll, Ray Liotta, John Magaro, Gabriella Piazza, Leslie Odom Jr., Michela De Rossi, Samson Moeakiola

Crime drama, USA, 2021, 120 min.

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