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Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Prime

Posted By on Wed, Nov 2, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Prime is either a serious romantic comedy or a drama with comedic interludes; Uma Thurman is Rafi, a thirtysomething fashion photographer who eagerly pours out the messy details of her recent divorce to her therapist, Lisa (Meryl Streep). Both patient and analyst are excited by Rafi’s passionate fling with the soulful but much younger painter, David (Bryan Greenberg), giggling like a pair of junior high cheerleaders. What nobody is initially aware of, however, is that Lisa is David’s mother. Eventually Lisa figures it out, but bites her lip for the good of her client, all the while urging her son to break it off with this shameless shiksa hussy. Were this standard-issue romantic comedy fluff, Lisa’s dilemma would be the centerpiece, and much more screen time would be devoted to near misses, verbal slip-ups and sitcom-style scenarios, but Prime is richer in its execution. Writer-director Ben Younger (The Boiler Room) gets solid performances from all three leads, who flesh out characters that could have been paper dolls in other hands. Greenberg holds his own among his veteran co-stars, and Thurman breaks out of her recent action-hero mold with grace.

It’s easy to see why the pair is attracted to each other, as their nascent romance blooms on the sort of magical New York streets that in better days Woody Allen would’ve strolled down arm-in-arm with Diane Keaton. Allen’s influence is even more evident in the somewhat clichéd Jew vs. gentile humor, and in Streep’s occasional digression into stock Jewish mother shtick, but it never overwhelms the picture. The film argues that ultimately, in love, questions of race, religion, age and status are merely background static, even as the characters become terminally distracted by the din.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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