Despite presenting a world of gun-toting tough guys and chest-beating bravado, it’s Giuseppina Bruno – not Tony Soprano, and not even protagonist Dickie Moltisanti – who matters most in The Many Saints of Newark.
This truth becomes clear early in the film, when Giuseppina (played with doe-eyed aplomb by Michela De Rossi) utters the word “motherfucker.” On its surface, the scene is a chuckle-inducing throwaway: New to America, the young Italian beauty is slowly grasping English while living in the company of a crew of Jersey mobsters – most notably her new lover, Dickie. (It’s a pretty easy word to pick up in a crowd like that, no?) But what’s important here is that she says it with equal parts glee and authority – cutely enjoying the novelty of expressing a dirty American word while simultaneously giving the audience more than a passing nod to its relevance.
“Motherfucker” carries considerable weight in this film. A few minutes prior to this pivotal scene, Giuseppina is introduced to Dickie – and the rest of us – as the much younger bride of his father, Hollywood Dick. At first, both Moltisanti men appear decent enough (at least by gangster standards): Dickie is a charismatic gentleman whose attitude and mannerisms hint at a heart of gold under his flashy wardrobe, while Hollywood Dick comes off as a doting husband – well, a doting husband with a subtle penchant for control and a glaring habit of speaking for his better half.