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Film / Little Odessa

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Little Odessa is a 1994 American movie about the Russian-Jewish immigrant community in Brighton Beach and the bad things that happen to one particular Dysfunctional Family. It consists of Arkady, the adulterous father who makes ends meet working at a newsstand; his wife, dying of a brain tumor; and the younger son Reuben, a soft-spoken, clever boy intent on cutting school, smoking weed, and watching movies. There is also an elder son, Joshua (Tim Roth), who is a hitman for the Russian Mafia and was therefore banished from home. He has to return to Brooklyn to off an Iranian jeweller, and awkwardly tries to make peace with his family in the process. It does not go well.


This film provides examples of:

  • Bilingual Bonus: Yiddish and Russian, though the pronunciation is often off.
  • Black Sheep: Joshua's criminal ways lead to him becoming rejected by his father.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Joshua to his dad several times throughout the movie, with increasing violence.
  • City Noir: NYC is bleak and cold and people shoot each other in broad daylight.
  • Dull Surprise: the expression worn by the protagonist for the length of the entire film.
  • Fake Russian: Everybody except for some minor characters.
  • Happy Place: the final scene sees Joshua sitting alone in his car and imagining his mother, brother and himself sitting quietly together in the bedroom. This is never to be since both his mother and brother die.
  • Harmful to Minors: Reuben witnessing his brother on his, er, job, and subsequently arming himself.
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  • Hitman with a Heart (albeit a very cold heart)


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