Writer-director Ben Younger, who perflectly nailed the high-testosterone world of pump-and-dump stock scams in Boiler Room, is a bit more uneven with a switch over to the estrogen side of things with “Prime.” It is the story of an unusual love triangle: Rafi, a vulnerable recent divorcee (Uma Thurman), David, her passionate, much-younger lover (Bryan Greenberg), and Lisa (Meryl Streep), who is both Rafi’s therapist and David’s mother.
This is the story of all three of those relationships — Rafi and David, Rafi and Lisa, and and Lisa and David. But Younger is better at creating characters and situations than he is at resolving them. It does have lovely performances, some hilarious moments and some surprisingly touching ones, and the best pie-in-the-face gag since Mack Sennett.
With Rafi, Lisa is the ideal therapist-as-mother, warm, endlessly devoted, gently insightful, always supportive. But with David she is just like any other mother, struggling to hold on and let go at the same time. If a patient wants to enjoy some casual sex with someone who would be inappropriate as a long-term partner, that’s one thing. But if her son has a girlfriend who is both older and not Jewish, that’s another.
The who-will-find-out-what-when part of the movie and the how-will-his-friends-feel-about-her and how-will-her-friends-feel-about-him sections of the movie unroll in all-but-alphabetical order, but the conviction all three players bring to their scenes together make them work — and make us care as we laugh, and the struggles the three of them have to try to make it all work are genuinely affecting.
Parents should know that the movie is very explicit for a PG-13, with very frank sexual references and situations. Characters use strong language.
Families who see this movie should talk about why Lisa had a different view of what was right for Rafi before she knew Ben was involved than after she learned it was him. They should also talk about their own feelings about religious inter-marriage.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Keeping the Faith.