Monday, December 12, 2005


PRIME (Ben Younger, 2005)

In the romantic comedy PRIME newly divorced Rafi (Uma Thurman) meets a guy who eases her concerns about entering into another relationship. She immediately clicks with David (Bryan Greenberg), an artist who is a little younger than she’d prefer. She’s 37 and he’s 23, although he initially claims to be ten years her junior. Rafi’s therapist Lisa (Meryl Streep) reassures her that it’s perfectly acceptable to be seeing David.

Lisa changes her mind when she unwittingly discovers that Rafi’s boy toy is her son. The age difference bothers her, but the religious divide—he’s Jewish, she’s not—unsettles her more. Lisa tries to keep the personal and professional separate, so she tells neither her client nor her offspring what she knows while encouraging both to break off the affair.

Director Ben Younger’s previous film BOILER ROOM borrowed liberally from David Mamet’s GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. With PRIME he is unmistakably visiting Woody Allen’s turf. The New York setting, the relationship neuroses (not to mention all those analyst visits), and a more mature, yet humorous, exploration of male/female interactions come direct from vintage Allen masterpieces. Plus, as David’s buddy Morris, Jon Abrahams functions as a scene-stealing Tony Roberts.

PRIME isn’t the equal of its inspirations, but it’s a cut above many contemporary romantic comedies. Lisa keeps her secret far longer than might be expected, providing Streep with several funny scenes in which she squirms while listening to Rafi tell the intimate details of her love life with David. Thurman practically glows as she lets loose in a fine comedic performance. To quibble, Thurman doesn’t look significantly older than Greenberg’s David, which undermines one of the main obstacles between them. PRIME hits a dead end when the relationship begins to stall and never quite recovers the momentum of the film’s first hour. Nevertheless, it’s a solid romantic comedy that benefits from its ambition to look at the importance of age and religious differences, even if it could have gone deeper.

Grade: B

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