Great acting carries witty, charming ‘Prime’
Observer Scene | Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Thank Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher for turning society on to the whole “older woman, younger man” thing.
In Ben Younger’s “Prime,” Uma Thurman plays the part of Rafi, a 37 year-old divorcee whose biological clock is tick-tick-ticking. Having recently left a nine-year marriage, she is more desperate than ever for the fulfillment she believes can only come from the newness of a baby. Justifiably eager to move on with her life, Rafi falls quickly for the attention of David, the younger guy, played by hunky newcomer Brian Greenberg. David, just about as cute as can be, proves to really be just a boy, as he is nearly 14 years her junior.
Despite the age difference, the two seemingly hit it off with a sort of lust – maybe even love at first sight – kind of thing. Nonetheless, Rafi questions whether or not she is ready for romance, especially given David’s age and slight immaturity. Desperate for guidance, she confides everything to her zany psychiatrist Dr. Lisa Mertzger (played by always-outstanding Meryl Streep). Lisa urges Rafi to go ahead and have some fun with David, as it is probably no more than a harmless fling.
The film’s previews have already given away the twist. Steep’s character soon discovers that Rafi’s new sexually-invigorating companion happens to be her son. Yet aside from being her good little Jewish boy, David also happens to be a free spirited artist with eyes wide open. His romantically rebellious streak finds him caught up in a deep infatuation with Rafi, which quickly transgresses into a whirlwind relationship that is both exciting and suspenseful for the viewer. Thurman gets most of the credit for this though, as there is something genuinely intriguing about her middle-aged character.
Where Thurman provides the perfect dramatic performance, Streep adds the priceless humor. Caught between a relationship with her patient and her only son, Lisa faces a strenuously sentimental and ethical burden. The thought of her son finding love in a non-Jewish woman turns out to be the most traumatic thing that could happen in her life. Lisa is seemingly liberal in most things outside her family. As Streep fidgets, pouts and stammers her way through the gushy details of Rafi’s sex life, she brings an amazing comedic performance to this protective motherly turmoil.
Outside of the expected lovey-dovey type scenes, there is just enough comedy from other supporting characters to keep the movie interesting. For instance, what would a young girl living in New York City be without her stereotypical gay friends? Rafi’s closest friends, a couple of trendy homosexual guys, are more like her family, as she depends on them for advice and approval of her young lover.
On David’s side is probably the most hilarious character in the movie. Morris, played by Jon Abrahams, is a complete buffoon, as he gets his kicks by throwing cream pies in the faces of women who will not give him a second date.
Finally, there are David’s bickering grandparents/”roommates” who are just so cute they can’t be anything but loveable.
All in all, the plot is less predictable than it seems. The ways in which things play out are less conventional than other traditional romantic comedies – it has a little bit of an edge. Most of the actors step up to playing characters that are refreshingly life-like. For those looking for light hearted laughter and quirky romance, or for fans of Thurman and Streep, “Prime” will likely not disappoint.