Film Review: Prime

Posted in Reviews on June, 01 2006 2:16 PM

Starring: Uma Thurman, Meryl Streep, Bryan Greenberg
Cert: 12
Released: 12th May 2006

Raphael (Thurman) is 37 years old and has just been divorced from her husband after he cheated on her. Aside from the obvious pain of the betrayal there is also an issue of wanting to start a family and she can sense that the chances of that happening are rapidly passing her by.

Then she bumps into youthfully handsome Dave (Greenberg) and an immediate, mutual attraction is felt between them. They date and after he has to show i.d. to buy alcohol she discovers he is only 23.

She is reticent about continuing the relationship and embarrassed by their age gap but her therapist, Lisa (Streep), eagerly encourages the dalliance as an opportunity for her to rid herself of her marriage/divorce hang-ups and go for some whimsical, uncomplicated fun.

But Lisa is unaware that Raphael's toy-boy is actually her own son. Of course when Dave tells her that he is dating an older woman then she is completely disapproving - not just because of the age difference but more so when she discovers that the girl isn't Jewish.

It is only a matter of time before Lisa pieces together the fragments of their relationship she is hearing and she is confronted by a professional/personal dilemma. Should she stop seeing Raphael during her time of need? Should she influence her client into ending the relationship to appease her own concerns? Or should she just come forward knowing that she's already, inadvertently, heard more than she should of from both a professional and maternal perspective? No mother needs to know that much detail about her son's penis.

The first thing to get past before settling down is what you think of Uma Thurman. You see? Because I like her a lot; both professionally and aesthetically. She has proven herself to be quite a versatile actor with successful dramas, action and comedies behind her so whereas Prime may be aimed at middle-ageing women looking to fantasise over a bit of sparkle in their lives I actually wanted to go see it.

Add to that mix the addition of Meryl Streep's presence that continues this propensity for placing classic actresses in comedy roles (Streisand's Meet The Fockers, Fonda's Monster In Law, Maggie Smith's Keeping Mum), which is working rather well, and it doesn't seem to be such a bad format.

And it is a good film; the premise is twisted enough to allow the laughs of Linda's awkwardness flow without force and the generation gap between Raphael and Dave brings up some very humorous dialectics.

Poor Thurman, though, has been through a bit of a rough time recently with her real-life ex being caught in an extra-marital dalliance so her character of Raphael is immediately afforded deepest sympathy. Unless, of course, you were unaware of her private matters or are even more cynical than me and believe the rich-and-famous have it coming to them.

Streep can't be faulted as the straight-talking mother/therapist and puts on a fine show as personal opinions conflict with professional.

The real issue comes with from Greenberg who, in himself, is a good enough performer but just doesn't capture that personality factor that makes me believe (and understand) why Raphael would brush aside all her worries about the age difference and carry on seeing him. He's 'not all that.' And especially when all her worries start being realised as their relationship becomes more relaxed.

Based on the performances of the two leading ladies, Prime is a funny film. It could have been an exceptionally funny film but lacked a strong enough male lead (actor and/or character); was missing quality screen time for quirky friends and, with an ending that, although not entirely disappointing, was unsatisfying.

Definitely worth a look but not necessarily on the big screen.


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