The exciting coupling of Meryl Streep and Uma Thurman in the comedy Prime provides for exceptional acting from the main players, yet the film disappoints due to embarrassing dialogue and cliche situations.
Director Ben Younger’s film focuses on Rafi (Thurman) who finds herself swept away in a quick relationship with David (Brian Greenburg) who is 15 years her junior. Unbeknownst to Rafi, David is the son of Lisa, her therapist (Streep). Embarrassingly, Rafi tells intimate details of her relationship to Lisa.
The romance aspect of the film starts off weak. David pursues Rafi in a high school-esque fashion and leads the audience to question whether or not the character actually is 23 years old.
The relationship is meant to be taken for merely face value up until the third act of the story, where the writing begins to show substance between the two romancing characters.
Once the screenplay gives the audience the goods between Rafi and David, the film takes an interesting perspective on love. Through the two lovers, important messages of giving and taking are emphasized, as well as patience and understanding.
Regrettably, David is shafted during his character’s development. He is the only character out of the three leads who is still two-dimensional by the end of the film.
His character doesn’t even reflect his age. He is a 23-year-old character written as an 18-year-old.
The screenwriters subject him to so many teen cliches that it makes watching it embarrassing. Scenes that show him unnecessarily in his tank top are just unimaginative tactics to turn him into a heartthrob.
David’s basketball-playing-frat-boy lifestyle makes him seem like a character out of a cheap WB series instead of an intellectual comedy. Unfortunately for Greenburg, the flaws in his character’s creation do not allow him to display any exceptional acting talent.
Just as embarrassing as David’s character is the poor dialogue throughout the film. If this is what screenplays have come to, the industry needs to rethink itself.
The scene in which Rafi and David have their first encounter at a movie theater resembles an after school special rather than a Streep film.
In addition, sexual comedy is one thing, but quips written so directly without any clever insinuation is simply embarrassing.
During a therapy session, Rafi reflects on her sex life with David: “His penis is so beautiful, I just want to knit it a hat,” says Rafi. Movies need to use smart and comedic writing, not slop like this.
Thurman and Streep, despite the ghastly dialogue, still succeed in demonstrating their acting prowess.
Thurman plays the sophisticate with deliciously funny reactions, especially regarding abashed moments to David’s age. Streep makes the role of Lisa greatly engaging and creates an insightful therapist that the entire audience can love. Prime makes the mistake of not adding more scenes with Streep.
Perhaps the best aspect of the film is its commentary on religious prejudice. Lisa is fervently opposed to David’s romance with Rafi and tries to persuade him to see that any relationship outside his religious background isn’t worth pursuing.
Even despite certain high’s in the film, e.g. a successful family dinner with Rafi as the guest of honor, Lisa still cannot shake her prejudices.
Prime mixes banal dialogue with some potentially thought-provoking commentary all in a film that lasts 20 minutes too long. It’s a pity that Streep signed on to a film that leaves such an empty feeling once it concludes. Surely, this actress cannot be past her prime.
Jesse North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.