Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Gray|
|Produced by||Paul Webster|
|Written by||James Gray|
|Music by||Dana Sano|
|Edited by||Dorian Harris|
|Distributed by||Fine Line Features|
|May 19, 1995|
|Box office||$1,095,885 (domestic)|
Little Odessa is a 1995 American crime drama film written and directed by James Gray, in his directorial debut, and starring Tim Roth, Edward Furlong, Moira Kelly, Maximilian Schell and Vanessa Redgrave. 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 film follows the personal relationship between a father, Arkady Shapira (Schell), his terminally ill wife Irina (Redgrave), and his two sons, Joshua and Reuben (Roth and Furlong). Joshua, the elder, is a hit-man for the Russian-Jewish mafia in Brooklyn and estranged from his family. After finishing a contract killing, Joshua is ordered to kill an Iranian jeweler in Brighton Beach, which Joshua reluctantly accepts. Joshua stands outside his family's apartment, where he is spotted by one of his old friends Sasha, who tells Joshua's brother Reuben the next day. Reuben goes to the hotel where Joshua is staying to see him. Joshua asks Reuben how he knew he was in Brighton, and they make plans to meet again the next day.
Joshua waits near the boardwalk where Sasha is and intimidates him to tell who else knows about Joshua being in Brighton. Sasha brings Joshua to the car repair stand where Viktor and Yuri are. Joshua says they will help him find the Iranian jeweler and when they refuse, Joshua threatens them.
After things go sour, Joshua executes a man at a phone booth to prevent being found out in Brighton, which angers the neighborhood boss Boris Volkoff (Guilfoyle). Joshua starts dating his ex-girlfriend Alla (Kelly). Alla asks Reuben if he has seen Joshua anywhere and the three go together to see a movie. Eventually Reuben takes Joshua home to see his parents again, but Arkady denounces him as a murderer and kicks him out.
Joshua uses information about his father's affair to see his dying mother. After reminiscing about the past, Joshua's mother asks him to go to his grandmother's birthday party, which Joshua agrees to.
On the day of his grandmother's birthday party, Joshua meets with his friends to kidnap the jeweler. They take him to the dump where Joshua kills the man, then they burn the body in the furnace. Reuben witnesses the killing, and takes a revolver from the murder scene. Arkady finds out that Reuben has been skipping school for two months and beats him. When Joshua sees the bruises on Reuben's face, he brings Arkady to a snowy field and prepares to kill him, but loses his nerve after Arkady tells him that there's nowhere left for him to go in Brighton Beach. Afterwards, Arkady gives up his son to Volkoff and Irina dies.
The next day when Reuben is riding his bike, two of Volkoff's men push him to the ground and tell him that Joshua is a dead man. With the mafia looking for him, Joshua stays at Alla's.
Volkoff's men look for Joshua and search Alla's neighborhood. Reuben finds out from Sasha where Joshua is and rides there on his bike to warn his brother. One of Volkoff's men finds Alla outside hanging out laundry and shoots her before escaping. Reuben finds Alla's body and shoots the second would-be assassin. Sasha arrives on the spot and sees somebody behind the sheets that Alla had hung out to dry. Without warning, Sasha shoots this person through the sheet, believing it is one of the men looking for Joshua. When he looks behind the sheet, he sees that he has killed Joshua's brother Reuben; he runs off before Joshua can show up. Afterwards Joshua finds Reuben and takes his brother's body, wrapped in the sheet, to the furnace for cremation.