The Many Saints of Newark was promoted as a prequel to the long-running and highly acclaimed series, The Sopranos. Young Tony Soprano, Big Pussy, Uncle Junior, Paulie Walnuts, and Silvio before they were front and center every week on our tv screens.
The promos leading up to its release are nostalgic in tone, including that familiar, tense opening song. The late Sopranos’ star James Gandolfini’s real-life son Michael is playing young Tony. And wow, doesn’t he look just like him? We are going to find out how Tony Soprano was made. Kudos to the marketing department (they were as hopeful as I was). Watch the trailer here.
Instead, it seems we get the prequel to the prequel. The focus is on Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher’s father. And Michael Gandolfini (Young Tony) is in it for like, a minute.
Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) teases us in the opening narration about the family, and he says – “but that was much later.” Like he literally says it twice. He’s not even born yet but he’s telling us about his dad and the relationship he will have with Tony Soprano. Yes, there are parallels.
Then there’s Ray Liotta in a twin role, playing both the obnoxious “Hollywood Dick” and imprisoned brother Sal Moltisanti. Do we need the same person to play twins? Well, at least the latter role is tolerable. Vera Farmiga rocked it as Livia, with a constant impatient eyeroll and her lit cigarette hanging over the baby’s cradle. Leslie Odom Jr. is great as Harold McBrayer, and helps bring some actual history into the story.
Beyond the gritty and filtered camera lens, we’re still left with a large gap of time and no clear line to Tony’s ascent to power. So I guess that’s coming later.
Fun Fact: Moltisanti means “Many Saints.”