Ira Sachs has now become a master of New York City-set mellow, intricate character studies. His latest film, Little Men, is a beautiful addition to his rich oeuvre. As in his stunning Love is Strange, the drama and personal strife of Little Men is caught up in the quiet turmoils of real estate. A therapist (Jennifer Ehle) and her husband Brian (Greg Kinnear)--a stage actor with a mediocre career--move from Manhattan to Brooklyn after Brian's father's death to an apartment above a seamstress's (Paulina Garcia) dress shop. The couple's shy artsy young son (Theo Taplitz) befriends and becomes placidly enamored with the seamstress's chatty and charismatic son (Michael Barbieri). The moneyed threats and cultural and class divisions of the adult world intrudes upon and threatens the duo's soulful, budding friendship.
The cast is uniformly excellent, particularly the young kids and Garcia in a heartbreaking turn. When television seems to be eclipsing the filmic universe of intelligent, realistic drama these days, it's a hopeful testament to the art of movies how Sachs can create such deep characterizations and an absorbing, expansive watch in a brief, 85 minute run time. ***1/2