8. Brighton Beach
Brighton Beach is another filming destination that often gets overshadowed by nearby Coney Island, though the neighborhood and its boardwalk have appeared in quite a few successful movies, some with Russian or Jewish characters. Brighton Beach, now one of the city’s Russian and Central Asian enclaves, has a rich Jewish history and architecture from the World War II era that has made it appealing for films such as Moscow on the Hudson. The 1984 romantic comedy stars Robin Williams as a Soviet circus musician who defects to the U.S. Williams learned Russian to play Vladimir Ivanov, and the film features a few scenes in Brighton Beach, as well as Gerritsen Beach.
Brighton Beach Memoirs, a film adaptation of Neil Simon’s, is set in the neighborhood circa 1937. Jonathan Silverman stars as Eugene Jerome, who is raised in a Jewish American household during the Great Depression, often breaking the fourth wall to speak with viewers directly. Another film shot in Brighton Beach is Little Odessa, a 1994 James Gray crime drama whose title references a nickname for the Brooklyn neighborhood. The film follows Arkady Shapira, his terminally ill wife Irina, and their sons Joshua and Reuben; Joshua is a hitman for the Russian-Jewish mafia who is ordered to kill an Iranian jeweler in Brighton Beach. Other films that take place in Brighton Beach include Lord of War starring Nicolas Cage and Two Lovers featuring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joaquin Phoenix.