Big emotions at the heart of Ira Sachs’ ‘Little Men’

Michael Barbieri stars in the movie "Little Men."
(Magnolia Pictures)

In his 2014 drama “Love Is Strange,” about a longtime gay couple forced to take shelter under separate roofs, the writer-director Ira Sachs displayed a rare and delicate talent for braiding together the emotional lives of adults and children caught up in an unenviable, utterly believable situation. The same is equally true of his wonderful new film, “Little Men” (in limited release), which like its predecessor is set in motion by a crisis involving a piece of New York real estate.

Over the course of just 85 minutes, Sachs gives us five beautifully developed characters — a husband and wife (Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Ehle), a single mother (Paulina García) and the two young boys (Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri) of the title — and gently holds them up to the light, examining them with patience, tenderness and unerring emotional honesty. Don’t be fooled by the title: At the end of another long summer of turgid superheroics, it’s splendid to be reminded what a grown-up movie looks like.

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