Little Odessa

Little Odessa‘s an older movie (1994) that I just picked up on VCD a little while ago. It’s not a particularly interesting drama, but the setting is. It’s filmed in a part of New York city called Brighton Beach. It’s a decaying industrial sector with a large Russian immigrant population. The climax scene in the movie uses Ailanthus altissima to great effect. The thug (Tim Roth) has taken his victim to an abandoned factory to assassinate him. The victim stands at his grave. As Roth raises his gun, we see the bare branches of Ailanthus altissima rising between them like the devil’s own horns. There’s no doubt the director (James Gray) included the tree on purpose; just look at how tips of the branches line up with the gun and the victim’s head. It’s a depressing movie, like every movie by or about Russians I’ve ever seen, but it’s worth watching for the scenery.


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