Little Odessa

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1 1/2

Content: -2 1/2

Joshua (Tim Roth), working for the Russian Mafia, reluctantly returns to his old Brooklyn neighborhood to kill a man. Joshua's teenage brother Reuben (Edward Furlong) goes to see Joshua. Reuben loves his older brother, but seldom gets to see him because their father Arkady (Maximillian Schell) has disowned Joshua because of his criminal activity. Reuben tells Joshua their mother (Vanessa Redgrave) is dying of a brain tumor, and Joshua calls a truce with his father to see his mother before she dies. Joshua also renews a friendship with Alla (Moira Kelly), a girl he knew when younger. But Joshua has also made an enemy in the neighborhood. Like a Russian winter, LITTLE ODESSA is a dark, cold film to be endured rather than enjoyed.

This depressing film, set in the Russian Jewish area of Brooklyn during the winter, focuses on the relationships in Joshua's life. Although spotted with references to their Jewish heritage, there are few indications of a strong religious faith. The film begins with Joshua shooting a man, and as the story unfolds, more victims are shot, but none are graphic or gratuitous. A strict disicplinarian, Reuben's father slaps him once, and a protective Joshua in turn punches the father. Later, Arkady finds out Reuben has been skipping school and hiding letters, and the sounds of a belt whipping off-screen are heard. Arkady is trying to be a good father to Reuben, and does not see his harsh treatment as cruelty. Joshua allows Reuben to smoke pot with him, even though it makes the young boy ill. Many obscenities from both Joshua and Reuben foul the dialogue. With a sick wife, the father apparently feels justified in taking a mistress. A bedroom scene with Arkady and his lover implies sex between them. Alla and Joshua also have sex which includes breast nudity. A few touching moments between Reuben and his father do not redeem this obscenity-filled, dreary story.

Preview Reviewer: Paul R. Bicking
Fine Line Features, 888 7th Ave., NY, NY 10106

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (2) times - Moderate

Obscene Language: Many (35) times (f-word 30, s-word 5)

Profanity: None

Violence: Several times - Moderate (shootings, some off-screen and some obscured or from distance, gun threats; father slaps son, hit with fist, belt beating off-screen

Sex: Implied 3 times (bedroom scenes, graphic once with breast nudity)

Nudity: Once (breast nudity)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Once (brothers smoke pot)

Other: Racial slurs; sounds of vomiting; adultery condoned; son threatens to kill father

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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