This film tells a bitter tale of a dysfunctional family. Joshua, a cold-blooded professional killer, returns to his Brighton Beach boyhood home for a "job." He knows it will be difficult to... See full summary »
This film tells a bitter tale of a dysfunctional family. Joshua, 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, who adores him, talking with his dying mother, who still loves him, and yes, arguing with his abusive father, 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. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
This film contains just 454 shots in about 92 minutes of action (i.e. excluding the credits). This equates to an average shot length of about 12 seconds. This is very long compared to the 3 - 6 second standard of most Hollywood films made in the 1990s. See more »
In the scenes where Mr. Schell is supposedly speaking Russian, his language is unintelligible beyond the simplest words. See more »
Little Odessa, also release under the title "Contract killer" is a very effectively and realistically told mobster movie, from the Russian community. It's a take on the prodigal son, here as a cold contract killer. A great watch for connoisseurs of films, and mobster film in particular.
The movie stands out for great acting, directing and photography, being James Gray directorial debut. Music is excellent as well. The actors are making this a great watch. The whole film is stuffed with fabulous acting. Tim Roth and Edward Furlong is both fabulous as the brothers, as Vanessa Redgrave and Maximillian Schell is as the mother and the abusive father. I think this is some of the best I've seen from them all.
The film starts up with the contract killer, being the older brother Joshua Shapira coming back to his hometown of Brooklyn after being away for years, to do a contract job. He fled town after committing a killing, which obviously is not forgotten. He meets his younger brother, Reuben, which tells him that their mother is terminally ill with brain tumor. Joshua wants to see the mother, but are not welcomed by the father, being a danger to the whole family since wanted by the mobsters.
It's bleak, cold, gritty, effective and what I believe very realistic told. I was immediately sucked into the story, which is following the younger brother more than the older hit-man. it's no action movie, but a mobster movie told in the way we've seen many times. This does not stand back from these. The film builds slowly up to great scenes.
It's powerful on emotions, far more than on the action. However the persons are quite cold, and so is the violence. And there isn't much hope to see in the dreary days of this family.
The quote "We'll wait 10 seconds and see if God saves you" is said by Tim Roth's character before he does a killing. I would regard this is a must-see for mob film lovers, and a classic in the genre. I would likewise recommend the brilliant and effective "Eastern promises" by David Cronenberg, telling a story from the Russian mafia in Great Britain.
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