Actor-turned-director Frank Whaley’s fourth feature is one of those low-budget chamber pieces—the title comes from a composition for string quartet—that plays more like a short story than a film.

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Jonathan Nossiter made a virtue out of that brand of minimalism with 1997’s Sunday, in which David Suchet and Lisa Harrow match each other measure for measure. But Like Sunday, Like Rain centers on a believable human being, Leighton Meester’s Eleanor, who is surrounded by literary constructs: Debra Messing as the chilly Upper West Side matron who hires her as a fill-in nanny, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong as the musician ex-boyfriend who runs the gamut from whiny to shrill, and newcomer Julian Shatkin as Eleanor’s charge, a little old man trapped in a boy’s body.

Twelve-year-old Reggie, a crotchety cello prodigy who believes that “art is dead,” pontificates like a J.D. Salinger or Jonathan Safran Foer character, which makes him more insufferable than affecting. And that’s too bad, because there’s the ghost of a more interesting movie here, especially when this old-man-boy looks at his pretty nanny the way the dead-husband-boy in Jonathan Glazer's Birth looked at Nicole Kidman, but Whaley glides over the more discomforting aspects of his two-hander en route to a sweet, if too-tidy, ending. recommended