2 out of 10
A Poor Man's Mrs. Robinson
This was a bad, bad movie. So bad, it was the kind of movie that should give one hives. It begs the question for almost it's entire tortuous 1 hour and 46 minute counting length...how and why was it made? With an ending that takes away the possiblity of any positive message being gleaned from it's first miserable hour, "Prime"'s rocky and hackneyed storyline with a mismash of comedy and drama and a gross underuse of talented actors, one must declare "Meryl Streep and Ben Younger, for shame!"
Just where are all the comedies these days? With the 1980's and 1990's filled with strong witty comedies, "Prime" in the beginning scenes, appeared to be the return of this much missed genre. Looking like possibly the next "Meet the Parents," "War of the Roses" or "She Devil," "Prime" lacked all of the clever nuances one might expect and too quickly decended into an unbalanced and dark drama - combining religious jokes, age jokes and in-law jokes with a surprisingly sour tone, in a shift which seemed to confuse all actors involved and from which the picture never seems to recover it's early stride, leaping afterwards from one disaster to another.
Loosely based on events in the director/screenwriters own life, the story, written by "Boiler Room"'s Ben Younger focuses on Rafi (Uma Thurman), a recently divorced 37 year old woman who embarks upon a relationship with a younger man, 23 year old David (Bryan Greenberg). Seeking councilling to help her cope with her sudden divorce, she has begun to see Liza (Merryl Streep), however unbeknownst to her, and to her therapist who encourages her into the relationship, is that the young man is actually Liza's son. At this juncture, this picture could have been funny - in fact a great comedic opportunty for Streep, Thurman and Greenberg, all who look up for the task. It was also a story that when watching it, really needed to have a happy ending. While Streep does, in the few moments she has on screen, create a wonderful and quite funny performance with some added depth and uniqueness, she, like the other characters is deprived of a chance to grow and what had a promising beginning, like Rafi and David's relationship, becomes unexplicably doomed and simply falls apart.
With it's dark undertones, "Prime" at times seems like a Generation X version of "St. Elmo's Fire" and it could be argued that some aspects represent real issues faced by twenty and thirty somethings in today's society. The overall message however isn't presented well and as the scenes go by and none of the characters come to any form of collective resolution, it comes across as pointless and disappointing. In attempting to be a comedy, drama and parable, "Prime" seems to fail on all counts. Even with it's few promsing comedic scenes, a very funny frying pan weilding Bubbie and a not bad performance by newcomer Greenberg, the script and hardly-developed plot tarnishes all characters involved and gives only a glimpse at the uglier side of human nature, which doesn't leave one for the better.
Film Critic: Jennifer M Lillies