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THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK (2021) Review

Charlie reviews Warner Bros. THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK calling it “the best crime movie in years.” Catch the film in cinemas now.

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The Many Saints of Newark (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Warner Bros. Pictures presents The Many Saints of Newark in cinemas now.

Synopsis

The film follows a young Anthony Soprano who is growing up in one of the most tumultuous eras in Newark, New Jersey, history, becoming a man just as rival gangsters start to rise up and challenge the all-powerful DiMeo crime family. Caught up in the changing times is the uncle he idolizes, Dickie Moltisanti, whose influence over his nephew will help shape the impressionable teenager into the all-powerful mob boss, Tony Soprano.

Review

For reference, I have never seen The Sopranos. I know, I probably should have done by now but I have never found the time to sit down and watch six seasons of television. However, The Many Saints of Newark has intrigued throughout the year and it has finally made its way to UK cinemas! But, is it worth watching if you have never seen The Sopranos? Absolutely; it’s a film that certainly has references to the show that went over my head but Alan Taylor has made one of, if not, the best mob movie in years!

The Many Saints of Newark is a prequel to The Sopranos and follows a young Anthony Soprano (played by Michael Gandolfini) growing up in one of the most tumultuous eras in Newark’s history, becoming a man just as rival gangsters begin to rise up and challenge the all-powerful DiMeo crime family’s hold over the the increasingly race-torn city. Caught up in the changing times is the uncle he idolizes, Dickie Moltisanti (played by Alessandro Nivola), who struggles to manage both his professional and personal responsibilities and whose influence over his nephew will help make the impressionable teenager into the all-powerful mob boss: Tony Soprano.

Like I said, I have never seen the hit HBO TV show so I didn’t really have any expectations heading into The Many Saints of Newark but it is one of the best crime dramas I have seen in ages that I really hope doesn’t fly under the radar. It is brutal, emotional and has the potential to be a true contender this upcoming awards season. The film also is a great starting point if you want to get into the show. Since it is a prequel, the ending perfectly sets up where the TV show begins. Again, I haven’t seen the series but I felt that it was a great starting point for getting into this now so-called franchise.

Let’s just get this out of the way; The Many Saints of Newark is brilliant! In the last few years, there has been a real lack in old-school gangster flicks (aside from The Irishman) and it could be a possibility that we see a resurgence in this sub-genre. The way Alan Taylor tells this story feels very similar to Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas and has a throwback vibe to the ‘90s. From the action to the dialogue, it gave off the impression that it was inspired by some of the classic mob movies from the late twentieth century.

The cast are all splendid here. Every single actor delivers a knockout performance and the chemistry they have with each other is excellent. You buy into the friendship of everyone in the crime family and can understand the grudges they all have. However, Alessandro Nivola is easily the standout delivering a firecracker of a performance as Tony’s influential uncle, Dickie Moltisanti. His character is the heart and soul of the film and Nivola shines in what is essentially the leading role in the film. The journey that his character goes on in this movie is emotional, bloody and leaves an emotional punch by the time the credits start to roll. Without his character, the movie simply would not work and he lays the groundwork for the famous Tony Soprano we see in the future. Personally, Nivola deserves an Oscar nomination at least for his performance here, it truly is astonishing. Gabriella Piazza is also great in the film. She brings a lot of intensity to the role of Joanne Moltisanti and gives another fantastic performance in a movie that is stacked with many familiar faces delivering great performances.

However, my main, and only, problem with The Many Saints of Newark is the abrupt and incredibly rushed ending. The final fifteen minutes didn’t bring the whole film to a satisfying close and instead left me needing an extra fifteen minutes to smoothen everything out a lot better. It leaves a lot more questions than answers and didn’t work after the previous near-two hours.

Finally, the movie looks absolutely stunning. Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau truly captures the bleakness of the Newark riots while also having some stunning shots that look amazing on a huge cinema screen. The polished cars look gorgeous and the costumes and suits feel incredibly fitting for the time period.

Verdict

The Many Saints of Newark is the best crime movie in years. It is bleak, violent and emotional and Alan Taylor has made the best film of his career. Alessandro Nivola is truly Oscar-worthy here delivering a remarkable performance. His character truly is the heart of the film and you buy into the relationship he has with everyone. The ending is incredibly rushed and quite abrupt but this is one of 2021s best movies and a great starting-point for people wanting to get into The Sopranos.


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