Speed Reads

like father like son

Critics say James Gandolfini's son 'does him proud' with Tony Soprano performance in The Many Saints of Newark

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

The first reviews for the new Sopranos prequel movie The Many Saints of Newark are in, and critics are praising Michael Gandolfini for his performance as a young Tony Soprano. The 22-year-old actor is the son of James Gandolfini, who played the iconic character on HBO's The Sopranos and died in 2013. 

Michael Gandolfini is "electric" and "truly remarkable" in the film, Uproxx's Mike Ryan wrote, adding he's "perfected so many of his father's mannerisms that it's impossible not to be transfixed." IndieWire's David Ehrlich similarly wrote that Gandolfini's performance is "such a lived-in riff on his father's most famous role that it completely transcends the gimmicky task at hand," while Slashfilm's Chris Evangelista said he "nails the older Gandolfini's mannerisms and diction to the point where there are times when it genuinely feels like we're just looking at a younger James Gandolfini up on the screen." Overall, Time Out said that while it was a "titanic task" for Gandolfini to take on his late father's role, he "does him proud."

Michael Gandolfini has said that prior to working on the film, he had actually never watched The Sopranos

"It was really hard to watch my dad," he told Vanity Fair. "I recorded four hours of his monologues with Melfi and walked around New York with them constantly, constantly, constantly playing in my ear."

Though Gandolfini's performance earned raves, critics seemed a bit more mixed on The Many Saints of Newark overall, with Ehrlich pointing to some "gratuitous fan service" and CNN's Brian Lowry suggesting it might have worked better as a limited series. And for those looking forward to see Gandolfini, Uproxx cautioned he doesn't show up until about halfway through, as the film's main focus is actually Christopher Moltisanti's father, Dickie (Alessandro Nivola). The Many Saints of Newark is set to hit both theaters and HBO Max on Oct. 1.