Prime (12A)

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The Independent Culture

Prime is set in Woody Allensville, a half-Jewish, half-Wasp New York neighbourhood where the highbrow residents spend their days talking to their analysts and conducting troublesome romances with much younger partners. The difference here is that the age imbalance is tipped in the opposite direction from the one that Allen is so keen on: a 37-year-old woman, Uma Thurman, is dating a 23-year-old man, Bryan Greenberg. Caught in the middle is Meryl Streep as a therapist who's telling Thurman that she should revel in the relationship, while telling Greenberg that he should get together with a nice Jewish girl instead.

Although Streep does whatever the kosher equivalent is of hamming it up, Prime is less contrived than most of the high-concept romantic comedies released recently, all of which feature Matthew McConaughey and / or Jennifer Lopez. For a change, it's a rom-com that pivots on genuinely tricky predicaments rather than zany misunderstandings which could be cleared up with one conversation. It's not as close to vintage Woody Allen as it wants to be, however. Oddly averse to punchlines, the writer-director tends to cut off his scenes about 30 seconds before they reach their comic potential.