(originally published at Sound the Sirens Magazine)
If age was nothing more than a number, the characters in this Ben Younger directed flick would meander through this picture with very little to do. While entrenched in the typical romantic comedy type vehicle, Prime actually delves a little deeper than your standard studio fare. Keen on expressing character struggle and complicated relationship dilemmas, it is a juggling lesson between trying to be deep while still basic enough to cater to larger audiences.
Rafi (Thurman) is a 37-year-old recent divorcee who finds comfort in the much younger (14 years younger) David, an eager but naïve recipient of Rafi's desire for love. Having to deal with the generational gap is cause for concern, and coincidentally, Rafi's psychiatrist happens to be David's mom (played with sparkling flair by Streep). Cue uncomfortable conversations regarding David's anatomy and in-bed bravado and you have a talk no mom wants to be involved in. Herein lies the film's most interesting conflict- Streep is brilliant as she stumbles and fumbles through her son's apparent lack of concern for religious stability and love for Rafi as she tries to balance her role as psychiatrist and mother.
The relationship between the three is fun, emotional, humorous and by far, provides the audience with Prime's most interesting moments. It's these exchanges and coming to terms with the situation that gives Prime a certain "indie flick" feel to it- a bold step in trying to scrape deeper than the usual surface material found in more conventional romantic/comedic affairs. Whether it is Rafi and David dealing with their age gap ("if you like sex, no Nintendo!") or Streep's initial breakdown upon discovering the relationship, director Ben Younger advances through these situations with enough care to highlight the more serious complications while still making them approachable to viewers who prefer relationship conflict with less tension.
There are however, brief interchanges that make Prime feel as if it were a 20-minute sitcom pilot stretched far beyond the hour-mark. There's David's bumbling sidekick (Abrahams) who provides nothing more than cheap laughs, and a myriad of plastic characters that seem rather lifeless compared to the main three. They weave in and out of the narrative while never connecting with any of the leads.
Prime is interesting enough to ask the right questions about age, relationships (boy-girl, mother-son and so forth) and the outcome of the decisions made. It isn't without its faults as at times, it struggles to figure out just what it wants to be. For the most part, the film succeeds in being both entertaining and interesting, and when it comes to romantic comedies, it's more than you can ask for these days.
DVD Features: Not the kind of the DVD you buy for the extra features as they are few and far between. It's the usual stuff- outtakes, deleted scenes ... thankfully the film itself is good enough to warrant a DVD purchase.