Little Odessa - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Little Odessa Reviews

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November 23, 2017
This was a 1990s crime film I skipped at the time, but now wanted to go back to watch after greatly enjoying writer/director James Gray's more recent film "The Lost City of Z." In this film Tim Roth plays a hitman for the Russian Mob returning home to Little Odessa, a primarily Russian Neighborhood in New York City, but the main focus is on his younger brother Edward Furlong and the brothers' relationship to each other and their parents, Vanessa Redgrave as the terminally ill mother and Maximilian Schell as the caring father. Although there is a crime story about the mafia going after Roth, at it's core "Little Odessa" is a dark family melodrama. Much like "The Lost City of Z," writer/director Gray creates rich characters with strong performances (Moira Kelly is also quite good as Roth's girlfriend). Both films also similar present a terrific sense of place, that's reminiscent of the works of Herzog or Wim Wenders, where the setting and locations play almost as important a role in the film as the story and characters. An unfortunate similarity between the two films is a slow meandering pace. A major strike against "Little Odessa" is that I'm not quite sure of the film's subtext or central theme. There's likely something about family, but whatever point Gray had in mind gets obscured by subplots and melodrama. Still, despite the film's slow pace and lack of clear purpose, it's visually arresting, features strong performances, and paints a vivid picture of what it's like to live and breath in Little Odessa. Deeply flawed, but well worth watching.
½ September 26, 2017
One of those little indies that I remember hearing about when I was in high school. On its face it's appealing: a hitman comes back to his old hood for a job and tries to reconnect with his family. It has a nice cast. But the characters are thinly drawn and the tone of the film is so unrelentingly somber that it ends up being lifeless.
December 26, 2016
Joshua Shapira (Tim Roth), a cold-blooded professional killer, returns to his Brighton Beach boyhood home for a "job." He knows it will be difficult to return to the Russian-immigrant community of his youth--in his eyes, we see anticipation of the inevitable emotional pain and psychic turmoil that seeing his forsaken family and estranged companions will bring him. To do his job, and try to maintain some semblence of sanity, he has had to wall off his humanity from even himself. Seeing his kid brother Reuben (Edward Furlong), who adores him, talking with his dying mother Irina (Vanessa Redgrave), who still loves him, and yes, arguing with his abusive father Arkady (Maximilian Schell), begins to wreak havoc with his personal defenses. As his steely demeanor begins to dissolve, we are shown the soul of a hit-man crumbling away, piece by piece. Finally, all that he now allows himself to admit that he loves is agonizingly torn away from him and he is left with the ultimate punishment for his transgressions...

"Little Odessa" was written and directed by James Gray, in his directorial debut. The film earned a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the prestigious Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association. It also earned admiration from French master Claude Chabrol. The storyline in "Little Odessa" with a dysfunctional family in the centre is not something new, but the approach to use Brighton Beach, known for its high population of Russian-speaking immigrants, as the focal point in the film makes "Little Odessa" stand out. I have wanted to see this film for a long time, but in the end I was still not fully happy. Yes, it was James Gray´s directorial debut, and you can see that as the editing is not 100% for example. Some scenes makes no sense and there´s no good flow in the film in my opinion. Tim Roth, Edward Furlong, Maximilian Schell, Moira Kelly and Vanessa Redgrave are all great, but there´s something missing for this bleak, cold and gritty thriller to be something more than a 3 out of 5 in my book. Trivia: Great quote by Tim Roth´s character Joshua: "We'll wait 10 seconds and see if God saves you" when he is about to make a hit.
Super Reviewer
½ December 16, 2015
With an unrelatable psychopath at its center and only the strong performances to commend, especially from Tim Roth and Maximilian Schell, this is a failed combination of family drama and crime thriller that falls flat as both, seeming pointless and empty in its poor attempt at saying something.
June 16, 2015
It appears I've been sleeping on James Gray. The plot is a little too familiar, and Edward Furlong is Edward Furlong, but I loved the patient, apocalyptic tone, and Gray's camera, though obviously limited by budget (and a typically bad DVD transfer) is gorgeous. Even though I really liked this, I look forward to him transcending technical limitations.
½ May 8, 2015
Just not the important movie the producer and director wished to make.
½ April 23, 2015
This was basically American History X 3 years before it came out, with a gangster setting.
Super Reviewer
August 29, 2014
You can see brief flashes of potential brilliance, but the fact that none of them amount to anything only makes the film more disappointing. Also, I hope that whoever was the boom mic operator for this never worked again . . . it's embarrassing how often you can see it.
½ July 3, 2014
bad ass movie , i love tim roth and edward furlong.
March 11, 2014
Watched this a while back, really good and excellent film with a good pace and a story that was intriguing due to environment and culture. Really an under-appreciated film.
October 15, 2013
The cast is impecable, especially Tim Roth and Edward Furlong. At only 25, James Gray made a tragic and touching film about family and crime. It has one of the darkest soundtracks I've ever heard too, which helps adding even more drama to Little Odessa. The ending can be predictable as pratically all movies of the genre but the script is intense and intriguing.
½ August 10, 2012
Don't remember the film all too well, but I do remember it was very athmospheric and well shot (framed). +-1star uncertainty.
March 30, 2012
It was a pretty good movie. Good acting, directing, script, etc. In the end, though, it was just another forgettable crime drama.
January 16, 2012
I found this film compelling from the very beginning. To me, it was riveting. A no nonsense film. As far removed from Hollywood as possible.
Super Reviewer
½ November 15, 2011
Billed as another Goodfellas, Little Odessa is the story of a mafia hitman returning home to do a job, as well as seeing the poor immigrant family he left behind. The story is great, the movie is not. Tim Roth is fantastic as the disowned, disgraced, murderous son. Roth always gives a very strong performance and does so again here. Edward Furlong, one of my favorites, unfortunately does not do as well. I've seen him in enough things to know, it's not his fault, it's the writing. This film is so dark and painfully slow that I barely made it through. Very little is explained and the dialogue is laughable, even at times non-existent. There are huge plot holes to go along with an ending that makes little sense. The writer was trying to tell his story more through imagery and symbolism in a genre that is based on action. You can't pull off something like this without explaining more of the story and using it to move things along. It's not the worst film I've ever seen, but to be honest, I was bored from start to finish.
Super Reviewer
½ April 10, 2011
Never quite reaching its' full potential, Little Odessa still stands as a testament as to the underrated abilities of Tim Roth, while also offering a dark, more realistic look into the mob world than most films.
½ December 9, 2010
Der Film hat so seine Längen... und ich befürchte, dass ich auch die Story nicht vollständig verstanden habe.
October 24, 2010
Hardly a joy to watch with its misery piled upon misery, yet the performances keep you hooked.
May 22, 2010
U havent seen Little Odessa?
½ April 17, 2010
Average movie. Hate the way it ended...
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