Fast-Forwarding Through Life

Washington City Paper | October 27, 2005
In Prime, a 23-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman “fall in love” in the time it takes most people to make toast. But their age difference doesn’t matter, because they’re both into art, like to make out, and have the ability to fast-forward through life like a highlight reel, unencumbered by the pesky details of getting a stranger’s phone number, losing a job, or finding and furnishing an apartment in New York with only $2,000 to your name.

Blame all of it on writer-director Ben Younger, who seems to think that merely showing Rafi (Uma Thurman) and David (Bryan Greenberg) tonguing each other after each sparkless date is enough to make the audience believe in their romance. The twist in Prime, however, isn’t just their abstract of a love affair but the third party they have in common: Lisa (Meryl Streep) is Rafi’s logical, open-minded therapist by day, David’s verklempt Jewish mother by night. She encourages Rafi to keep seeing this young man who’s making her so hot and happy; she’s crushed when she discovers David is dating someone who’s not Jewish. But when Lisa realizes that the penis Rafi talks about so much (“it’s so beautiful, I just want to knit it a hat!”) belongs to her son, well, she freaks.

With Thurman solely making goo-goo eyes and Greenberg barely registering, Streep, adorned with a flippy fuddy-duddy ’do and garish chunky necklaces, is the best thing about Prime, providing comic relief when deftly handling Lisa’s attempt to quell her motherly instinct during sessions with Rafi. Lisa’s also the only developed character here, not merely because her conflict feels realistically human, but also because she seems to be the only person living in real time—most events, whether Rafi’s weekslong business trip or the couple’s relationship-deepening dates, run their course in about 30 seconds or less, while pretty significant developments such as David’s job loss aren’t shown or explained. Perhaps Younger was too focused on his Woody Allen–esque ending, with “I Wish You Love” playing over flashbacks. It’s sad, but not in the way Younger intended.

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