Movies

C-

Little Odessa

Genre: Mystery and Thriller, Drama; Starring: Tim Roth, Edward Furlong, Moira Kelly, Maximilian Schell, Vanessa Redgrave; Director: James Gray

Now here’s a rarity: a cool-minded urban underworld drama made by a young writer-director who doesn’t want to be Quentin Tarantino. No, he wants to be Michelangelo Antonioni. The protagonist of 26-year-old James Gray’s debut film, Little Odessa, is a blank-faced killer, Joshua Shapira (Tim Roth), who works as a hitman for the Russian Mob. Returning to the Little Odessa section of his native Brooklyn, he spends several days launching a shadowy assassination plot, evading the local crime boss (whom he’d betrayed in some equally shadowy way), and reconfronting his troubled family — alienated kid brother (Edward Furlong), cancer-stricken mother (Vanessa Redgrave), and abusive father (Maximilian Schell). If this all sounds a bit grim, you haven’t heard the bad news: As a filmmaker, Gray would rather revel in moody postures than color in the soul of his minimalist tough-guy hero. Roth, a great actor, is reduced to a walking sneer, and the picture creeps along in a series of handsome but painfully languorous hazy-shade-of-winter tableaux. C-

Originally posted June 2 1995 — 12:00 AM EDT

More from Our Partners