The casual moviegoer probably won’t like “Prime.” The film has propagated a case of false advertising – in fact, outright lying would be closer to the mark. “Prime” is not the hackneyed romantic comedy it appears to be in its trailer: It’s funny, but not in the way the viewer will expect. The movie is full of surprises – the plot, the dialogue, the way the scenes are shot – all the way through to the credits.
The premise sounds typical enough: Rafi Gardet (Uma Thurman, “Kill Bill 2”) falls in love with David Bloomberg, the son of her therapist (Meryl Streep, “Adaptation”). But it’s not as “adorable” as it sounds. The real meat of the film has little to do with the trailer. The deliciously awkward tidbits in which Thurman divulges intimate details about her sex life to her boyfriend’s mother are only the icing on the cake. The real conflict has more to do with the implications of a 14-year gap in the lovers’ ages.
“Prime” strives to be the unconventional romantic comedy. It’s artfully crafted and doesn’t follow the standard boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, happy-reunion formula of its genre. “Prime” is moody and raw; overall, it’s well-written, except for a few eye-rollers here and there. The most egregious of these comes at the end, the emotional climax of the film – where every line of the scene reads like saccharine-steeped abstraction. It’s a contrived, disappointing way of ending a film that did such a good job of walking the line between the poignant and the salty.
Bryan Greenberg (TV’s “One Tree Hill”) plays Thurman’s hunky, 23-year-old love interest. Though his performance is satisfying in the eye-candy department, the actor is thin on charisma. Thurman does fine, but, of course, Streep’s stereotypically quirky Jewish mom steals the show – but not in a good way. The film leans too heavily on the pull of her performance; it should be an afterthought, not the film’s main attraction.
“Prime” is rich in un-Hollywoodish moments. It accurately portrays the feverish falling-in-love stage. Then the honeymoon is over, and Rafi is pissed at her lover for leaving the cereal box on the counter. The sweet moments slide into the bitter ones honestly. This is an uncompromisingly honest film – even the climax scene can be justified by the unglamorous, this-is-the-way-people-actually-talk approach. After all, real people aren’t always witty and original.
Partly because of that, “Prime” is not the kind of movie that caters to the viewer’s need for a quick emotional fix. It’s not that the film is unapproachably artsy – it will make the audience laugh and care for the characters. But it also might end up disappointing expectations. People will leave the theater feeling wholly unsatisfied because – and this becomes obvious in the first 20 minutes of the film – there is no possible ride-off-into-the-sunset ending.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars