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Little Odessa (1994)

R | | Crime, Drama | 19 May 1995 (USA)
Early 1990s drama about a family of Soviet Jews living in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach ocean-side neighborhood nicknamed Little Odessa.




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4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alla Shustervich
Irina Shapira
Boris Volkoff
Natalya Andreychenko ...
Mina Bern ...
Grandma Tsilya
Mohammed Ghaffari ...
Dmitry Preyers ...
David Ross ...
Ron Brice ...
Man with One Leg


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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Between good and evil and heaven and hell is... See more »


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong shootings, sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 May 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Contract Killer  »

Box Office


$2,300,000 (estimated)


$1,095,885 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


It took director James Gray two years to get the financing in place to make the film. See more »


In the scenes where Mr. Schell is supposedly speaking Russian, his language is unintelligible beyond the simplest words. See more »


[first lines]
Joshua Shapira: It's done.
See more »


Features Vengeance Valley (1951) See more »

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User Reviews

Savage and sad....
3 January 2012 | by (Salisbury, United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I'm a long time fan of Tim Roth, who doesn't do nearly as much as I'd like him to, these days. The other British stalwart in this, the equally excellent Vanessa Redgrave was another point of interest for me.

There's a real brutal efficiency to this film that makes it unlikeable but also demands respect and our attention. Roth is the roving assassin who is forced to do his next job in his old neighbourhood and that means getting reacquainted with his family: dying Mum (Redgrave), hateful and abusive Father (Maximilian Spiel), as well as impressionable younger brother (Edward Furlong). 24 year old débutant director James Gray comes up with - and scripts - a surprisingly mature piece of crime cinema that is both poignant, moving and shocking.

To my mind, the violence should rate the film at 18, not 15; the cold- blooded unfeeling of Roth's callous and unflinching "jobs" don't even give us time for any bad taste to form in our mouths. I can see that some would find this a barrier to their enjoyment in what is mostly a character- driven drama of some depth. The winter-set scenes of back street Brooklyn are chillingly authentic and bleak and these help remind us of the family's Russian roots. The father, a devout Jew, who's also having an affair often speaks Russian still, hanging to his identity the best he can, in an alienating, changing and disintegrating world.

There are also some tender moments between assassin son and brain-tumour suffering mother, and of him lovemaking with his girlfriend, who wants to try to understand him and his motives. His younger brother tries to keep his own feet on the ground, whilst his sibling gradually but surely steals his innocence.

Yes, it is sad - and savage but strangely rewarding, too.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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