Featuring an excellent trio of leads, and an interesting concept as far as it goes, Prime should have been an amusing diversion, but due to the tactlessness of the marketing ‘gurus’ it is stripped of its only really unique feature and becomes a fairly bland affair.
Much like Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Island before it, this one-trick pony is hobbled by the ‘genius’ marketers who decided to throw away the twist in the trailer. Having seen that preview, I was intrigued as to whether Prime would have anything more to offer, and watched the first sequences carefully. Writer/Director Ben Younger (previously writer/director for 2000’s Boiler Room) carefully builds the relationships between the three cast, clearly preparing for the mid-story twist that will turn their lives upside down. This seems pointless in view of the hatchet job performed on his chance of surprising the audience by those responsible for the trailer.
Disappointingly, without the foreknowledge of the twist, Prime may have passed for entertainment. Meryl Streep and Uma Thurman are both excellent actors, and their time together is a joy to watch. Thurman, in particular, seems to be having a ball, clearly revelling in her analyst couch discussion of her sex life with the younger man, pun intended. Streep, who has performed many accents in a long career – including the much-reviled ‘Australian’ accent of Evil Angels (A Cry in the Dark) – seems to have tried to adopt a ‘New York Jew’ vocal pattern, which occasionally wavers to straight Streep. Aside from her linguistic variability, she is excellent as the tortured therapist. Bryan Greenberg evidently favours ‘smouldering’ over ‘animated’, and having spent a lot of time on tv’s “One Tree Hill’ in the company of Chad Michael Murray, one can understand his influences. He and Thurman do play well together though, but he does tend to get dwarfed when in the presence of Streep.
The problems in Prime lie mainly in the pedestrian plotting that fails to fully take advantage of its players. The time leading up to ‘the twist’ is appealing (although, had it not thrown away any advantage it had in its trailer, it could have been very entertaining indeed), but the remainder seems to struggle along to an eventual conclusion that is not surprising or illuminating. The film seems to lack direction, as if coming up with one good idea was enough – how best to take advantage of the moments of conflict seems not to have been fully considered, and the subsequent meandering through to the conclusion is a disappointing failure.
Prime is entertaining in parts, but never capitalises on a reasonable premise and an excellent cast. Wayward and directionless for its second half, it has limited appeal.Rating: