Little Odessa

"Good"

Little Odessa Review


Little Odessa refers to an old Russian Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, along the lines of Little Italy or Chinatown. There, everyone speaks Russian, wanders through bleak snow-covered streets, drinks vodka, wears heavy wool coats...and most carry guns. This is the age of the "organizatsya," the Russian mafia, for whom Joshua (Tim Roth) is employed as a hit man.

Joshua, a long-time Little Odessa expatriate, is called back to the neighborhood to perform a hit on a big shot resident. When he arrives, he encounters his worshipful brother Reuben (Edward Furlong), former lover Alla (Moira Kelly), hateful father Arkady (Maximilian Schell), and dying mother Irina (Vanessa Redgrave). Together, the cast creates a highly dysfunctional family the likes of which you've probably never seen before.

As Joshua closes in on his target, relations with his father become more and more strained, as Joshua tries to return home to visit his mother before she dies. While Reuben and Alla grow closer to Joshua, so do the thugs who are out to avenge the man Joshua has murdered. Ultimately, the film culminates in a tragic shoot-out that Quentin Tarantino could have scripted.

Tarantino is not the man behind this film, however. Little Odessa is the surprising first feature of James Gray, who wrote and directed it. Gray is obviously good at scripting action sequences like the finale, but when it comes to old-fashioned storytelling, he still hasn't arrived. The film's opening and long expository sequences set the tone well, but many scenes don't serve any real purpose, dragging the narrative out instead of moving the picture forward. A huge problem for me was that a number of characters look, dress, and sound the same, making it often impossible to figure out what's going on and who's involved.

Thankfully, most of this remedies itself by the end. The multi-layered story ties up neatly, and the net result is a generally satisfying yet heartbreaking finale. However, the acting is what makes Little Odessa watchable. Roth is perfect as the dark and disturbed hitman who still loves his mother. Redgrave as Mom is truly jaw-dropping: the veteran actress playing a cancer-ridden matriarch with frightening realism. Even Furlong shines, proving he has something left after Pet Sematery 2.

A more polished script would have carried Little Odessa a lot farther. The film's intentions were honorable, and the cast and crew obviously genuinely wanted the film to succeed. It unfortunately isn't the masterpiece they were hoping for, but it is enough to make you consider vacation spots other than the real Little Odessa.

Litte Odessa, big trouble.



Little Odessa

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th May 1995

Distributed by: Live Home Video

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 61%
Fresh: 11 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Reuben Shapira, as Joshua Shapira, as Alla Shustervich, as Irina Shapira, as Boris Volkoff

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.