I’m less than five minutes into The Many Saints of Newark, and right away I’m uncomfortable and even thrown by Michael Imperioli’s narration from beyond the grave a la William Holden in Sunset Boulevard.
The film should remind us of The Sopranos and thereby put us at ease, and this opening bit feels like a bone tossed to those who don’t know the series and need to be brought up to speed. Feels inorganic. Narration is often used when a story has failed in one way or another. Here you go.
Small thing: In The Sopranos the 70something Junior Soprano (born around 1930) was played by Dominic Chianese — glasses, cueball, white sidewalls. Corey Stoll plays the late 30ish-40ish Junior in Many Saints, (’67 to ’71), also cueballed. Did he ever have a little hair? If I’d directed I would’ve had makeup give Stoll a thinning thatch, like Chianese had in The Godfather, Part II (’74).
9 pm update: The ending of Many Saints doesn’t launch young Tony on his journey — it doesn’t point to his destiny as a Jersey crime-family boss. Assuming ownership of a certain character’s wedding ring — that doesn’t imply anything.
Ray Liotta’s incarcerated Salvatore Moltisanti, twin brother of “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti, fills in for Lorraine Bracco’s Dr. Jennifer Melfi — he sees all, knows all, delivers morsels of insight and reflection.
Many Saints shot principal photography between April and June 2019. Some additional stuff was shot in September 2020.
I have a strong hunch that the added material included those prison visiting room scenes between Liotta and Alessandro Nivola’s Dickie Moltisanti. They don’t seem to organically flow or arise from anything in the Many Saints narrative. They’re just plopped in like scoops of ice cream into a glass of milk.