So... is there anything that Meryl Streep can't do? She's world reknowned at drama and accents but her talents don't stop there. Her filmography has also revealed her to be a fine vocalist (she sings in Postcards from the Edge, Silkwood, Death Becomes Her, and the upcoming Prairie Home Companion) and she's also proven time and again to be a deft comedienne. She's can do blisteringly dark humor (Manhattan) loopy and shameless clowning in silly trifles (She-Devil, Death Becomes Her) neurotic quippiness in dialogue heavy films (Postcards from the Edge) and now, in Prime she steals the show again in a performance that is so good it lifts the film into the clouds whenever she's onscreen. Here she's playing a guilt-inducing uptight Jewish mother who is an entirely different creature when working; Lisa Metzger the analyst is an open-minded, non-judgmental, and supportive maternal figure at work.
Prime, written and directed by Ben Younger (who is one to watch) is about a divorcée (Uma Thurman) falling in love with a much younger man (Bryan Greenberg) while her relationship with her therapist (Meryl Streep) gets more and more complex. Though the movie is charming it flounders around a lot, never quite sure how to resolve its central romantic dramedy. It also defies narrative movie expectations in a way that doesn't entirely serve it by letting the climactic reveals arrive with no fuss whatsoever. They play more like filler scenes than big moments. Yet Prime's strange quirks don't feel like those annoying script note driven "make-the-characters-memorable" screenplay ticks that so many comedies are burdened with. They feel more like genuine reaches for full characterizations.
Uma is radiant (speaking of someone in their prime) and well shot by the cinematographer William Rexer, Bryan Greenberg is appropriately hunky as her object of affection. But if the movie feels unbalanced, it's because the screenplay isn't entirely sure what to do with them and spends a lot of time proving that whereas Meryl Streep gets all the more tightly written scenes and nails them. She is spectacular to I'm sure noone's surprise. This elegant WASP queen is so great that she can play a fussy stereotypical screen Jewish mother / analyst with no trace of stereotype -Lisa just reads as a fully three-dimensional woman. Put her in a very funny ha-ha situation, dress her in loud clothing and a penchant for wearing too many necklaces and Meryl Streep will still get big laughs while avoiding coming across as anything less than human and nothing like a high-conceptgimmick.
So, I ask again. Is there anything this woman can't do?