The biggest mystery of this
movie... besides why it is titled Prime (at one point Meryl Streep
points out that Uma Thurman's character and her new boyfriend are in their
sexual primes, but there has to be more to it than that, doesn't there?)... is how is it
possible for a romantic comedy with such a contrived old sitcom plot could
actually be as good as it turns out to be.
Prime is one of those
"it's a small world after all" cases of lives coincidentally intersecting
with each other -- the kind of intersections that almost never happen in the
sprawling, crowded Metropolis of New York, where the movie takes place.
In Manhattan, everything is so spread out and so jam-packed that you can go
months without running into anyone you know just by chance. However,
in this film, as in so many other comedies of its type, people run into each
other all the time.
Uma Thurman plays Rafi
(short for Rafiela), a 37 year-old professional who is getting divorced.
Though she was not happy in her marriage, the actual split has her
distraught, feeling lonely and hearing the ticking of her biological clock.
She sniffles through her
weekly session with her psychiatrist about the direction of her life.
Dr. Lisa Metzger (Meryl Streep) is a smart, sophisticated Jewish woman who
is very in tune with her patient's lives, though her relationship with her
family is somewhat more strained. She nags her daughter to stay off
the phone and her son to bring home a nice, Jewish girl and make her a
grandma. She also does not take his artistic inspirations seriously,
pressuring him to give up his pipe dreams and get a real job.
One night at a revival
theater in the Village, a gay friend of Rafi's introduces her to a guy in
line that he knows from work.
David is younger than Rafi (he is twenty-three) and is there with a date, but there
is an unmistakable spark between the two. They go out and Rafi
is seriously intrigued, but bothered is by the age difference.
isn't the only difference, there is also a religious difference (he is
Jewish, she is Catholic). She has a good, high-paying job and he
barely works. Also Prime drops in the vague hint of
political strife that is slipped into the dialogue of one scene but never
touched on again; it would appear that he is a Democrat and she is a
conservative. (Maybe more on that will show up in the inevitable DVD
outtakes.) David has fewer worries about their relationship, he's
totally taken by the willowy shiksah goddess, though his mother would prefer
he marry in his religion. However, as the time goes on, the problems
start to grate on him too.
David is played with
confident affability by movie newbie Bryan Greenberg, who had previously
played a fictionalized version of himself in last year's HBO
struggling-actors series Unscripted. In fact that series showed
Greenberg getting this role and working on the set with crew and costars
Streep and Thurman, giving it a reality-TV vibe though it was not a reality
There is a big complication,
though. I apologize if this is a spoiler for the film. Normally
I wouldn't even mention it, but the plot complication is a huge plot point
and very flagrantly outed in all of the coming attraction trailers, TV ads
and press for the movie, so I have to assume that anyone who cares enough to
read this story will already know the plot twist. Rafi's new, younger
lover is Dr. Metzger's son. Honestly, the good doctor pieces together
this bit of info a little too easily... the city is full of 23-year-old men
named David who live in the Village, want to be artists and don't use
Q-Tips... but when she makes the connection Dr. Metzger is in a very awkward
position with her patient. Can she continue to see the woman and help
her mental health when she is forced to hear very private information about
her own son?
It seems like a blatant
conflict of interest, however Dr. Metzger's own therapist convinces her that
it would be unfair to cast her longtime patient aside for what may be a
brief fling. However, as things become more and more serious, the
to balance her responsibilities as a therapist with her responsibilities as
a mother. Streep makes it easy, capturing just the right balance
between comic (when she is reacting to information she should not be privvy
to) and dramatic. And, no big surprise for an actress renowned for her
ability to disappear into a character and an accent, but she really nails
being a middle-aged Jewish mother.
The whole story by Ben
Younger (isn't it ironic the story of a December-May romance would be
written and directed by a man named Younger) isn't really overly plausible,
but he takes great pains to make sure that it is possible. He
stacks the deck a little to make the scenario fly -- the doctor uses her
maiden name in her practice so that they have different names, Rafi has
apparently never noticed the pictures of her family in her office, David
knows she goes to a therapist but never asked who it was in case his mother
knew the therapist -- all of these things are improbable, but could happen.
In the end it all depends on
whether or not you are willing to suspend disbelief and just flow with the
story. The script and acting are good enough that most people will put
their skepticism on hold and just enjoy all the joys that Prime
Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: October 29, 2005.