This piffling romantic comedy is a surprising change of direction from Ben Younger, who made Boiler Room some years ago. That promising macho drama played like a superior David Mamet knock-off. This time Younger seems to be channeling Woody Allen, but not half so convincingly.
In Another Woman and Everyone Says I Love You Allen riffed on the idea of the secrets of the psychiatrist's office spilling out into the open, and Younger presents a variation on that idea here, with divorcée Rafi (Uma Thurman) sharing the ins and outs of her sex life with Dr Lisa Metzger (Meryl Streep), never imagining her shrink is her toy boy lover's mother.
Ordinarily I'm all for the willing suspension of disbelief, but Prime has a number of fundamental credibility issues:
(i) I could just about believe that in the heat of embarrassment and curiosity Dr Metzger might refrain from stopping Rafi as soon as she twigged 'David' is her David. But when she goes to consult her own therapist and is advised to keep seeing the patient and say nothing, I'm sorry, either Tom Cruise is right about this profession or the movie is hopelessly contrived.
(ii) This relationship is supposedly doomed from the start by the age difference between 37-year-old Rafi and 23-year-old David. So why on earth did Younger cast 35 year-old Uma Thurman opposite 27-year-old Bryan Greenberg? She could pass for early 30s, and he's late 20s - you look at them together and there's no obvious problem. (Quite what Uma thought she was doing playing older than her age is hard to fathom, but surely there are dozens of mature actresses begging for parts like this?)
(iii) And what does she see in David anyway? The first time they meet (at an Antonioni double-bill. As if!) he treats his girlfriend like a piece of trash. All through the movie supporting characters keep noting how witty he is, but Greenberg is a charisma-free zone and I never cracked a smile at anything he said.
The movie also suffers from a certain schizophrenia. Younger angles to give three points of view their due: David's, Rafi's, and Lisa's. But Greenberg's weak performance unbalances the triangle (even when he finds out what's happened David barely reacts). Meanwhile Streep, who is rarely comfortable doing comedy, delivers a broad, theatrical Jewish caricature. Thurman gives the material whatever warmth and sincerity it has, but the writing just isn't there to back her up: the bond between Rafi and her shrink is asserted rather than shown, and the lovers' courtship is a string of familiar rom-com clichés.