This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
Prime doesn’t seem like a complete title for a film. What are we supposed to expect from it? Were it Prime Suspect, you’d be thinking of a murder mystery, probably starring Helen Mirren. Prime Number would be a Pi-esque oddity, and Prime Rib being a thrilling intrigue set in the cut-throat world of restaurateuring. Prime on its own? Means nowt to me, chief.
Were you a charitable sort of person, you could applaud Prime for containing two films in one. There’s the story of a relationship between late thirty-something recent divorcee Rafi Gardet (Uma Thurman) and fresh faced early twenty-something David Bloomberg (Bryan Greenberg), the age difference causing some stress. Where better to vent this stress than to her therapist, Lisa Metzger (Meryl bloody Streep)? The kicker here being that Lisa is David’s mother! Imagine the potential for japery! Sadly, you’ll have to, as Prime provides very little japery indeed.
You’re probably thinking that the above only describes one story, and in a very marginally more ideal world that’s what it would be. What you’ve failed to take into consideration is the presence of Meryl bloody Streep, whose hamtastic Jewish mother stereotype is played with such irritating extremity that it pulls her scenes entirely out of the film and into a Blackpool pier pantomime.
The most annoying thing about Prime is that after the first quarter hour you can effectively extrapolate the rest of the film for yourself, which makes me feel rather foolish for sitting in front of it for another hour and a half. It predictably builds up to a contractually obligated happy ending much as you’d expect, and bolting on a quick ‘one year later’ melancholic postscript neither excuses this nor makes it a startling work of originality. Besides, Meryl Streep is in it.
There are many people walking the boards whose success I can only attribute to Faustian pacts, and there will be many people more in future, but of them all the career and apparent popularity of the Streep vexes me most. Even more so than the Roberts. Rest assured that come the revolution she will be one of the first ‘volunteers’ for Carbon Recycling, but until that halcyon day we must suffer her. Should you be one of the poor unfortunate pod people that have succumbed to Streep’s non-existent charms you may perhaps be less incensed by her turn.
Thanks to the wonders of modern download technology and lax moral fortitude, I was afforded the opportunity to watch this at my leisure. This took three days. Not, you understand, because the film itself is three days long, nor because my life is so action-packed that time could not be found to view it. No, the reason for this long, drawn-out viewage largely reduces to the fact that Prime is so extraordinarily ordinary that it’s difficult to concentrate on for more than half an hour at a time. This isn’t to say that it’s entirely without redeeming features, though.
Greenberg and Thurman show reasonable chemistry, and it doesn’t require a huge suspension of disbelief to believe they’re a couple. There are a few moments, particularly between said couple where the writer/director Ben Younger’s script shows real wit and Greenberg’s comic delivery is spot on. Any film that features the protagonist’s best friend revenging himself on women who dump him by flinging a custard pie in their face and not one, but two shots of an old woman hitting herself with a frying pan cannot be all bad. However, it still has Meryl Streep in it.
Younger’s been around for a short while now, producing largely competent films but he’s probably best known for his debut feature Boiler Room, which is itself best known for being the only decent performance that professional waste of space Vin Diesel has ever given. Another ‘volunteer’ for Carbon Recycling, that one. I mention all of this largely to applaud his moxy, as the original casting would have seen Sandra ‘not done anything decent in years’ Bullock taking the lead, but for her demanding major re-writes of her role. Younger refused, leading to the dodging of a bullet and the casting of Thurman. We’d have gotten away with it, if it hadn’t have been for those pesky kids, and Meryl Streep.