Saturday, November 26, 2005


I hardly ever pass up a chance to watch Meryl Streep. To see her play Uma Thurman's shrink was something too good to resist. What further intrigued me was the May-December Ashton Kutcher-Demi Moore situation Uma Thurman finds herself in, complicated by the fact that the guy just happens to be her shrink's son!

I entered the theater thinking Prime was just another chick movie. Yes, it deals with chick issues, but as the movie progressed I realized there was more to this intimate jewel of a movie than I originally thought. Blame the trailer for marketing the more accessible (comic + romantic) aspects of the movie. Parts of it ARE brilliantly comic, thanks in no small part to Meryl's impeccable timing. She slips into the role of Dr. Metzker (supportive shrink-but-neurotic-Jewish-mom) so easily, but avoids making a caricature of her character. Opposite her Uma plays it straight, and seeing her character Rafi evolve is a joy to watch.

At the beginning of the movie we see Rafi trying to recover from her emotionally crushing divorce. She looks wilted and humiliated and in dire need of self-validation. Dr. Metzker encourages Rafi to rebuild her self esteem, to open up, toward giving and receiving love. Later, as Rafi blooms from the attentions of her young lover David (tenderly played by Bryan Greenberg), you see her growing more and more radiant. (Reminds me of another cinematic divorcee who slowly gets her groove back - Diane Lane as Frances Mayes in 2003's Under The Tuscan Sun.)

"We have had sex on almost every surface of my apartment, and I have NEVER been so satisfied!" Hearing a rapturous Uma deliver that line alone had our entire cinema audience cheering.

Conflict begins when Dr. Metzker realizes that the lover is her son David: how does one behave ethically as a therapist when the subject of her client's affections is a family member? How does a therapist prioritize client care over her personal issues? How does a Jewish mother encourage her son to cherish his culture and religion? Given that our movie is set in New York, it's not inconceivable for a therapist to have her own therapist.

Later, when strain threatens Rafi's relationship, Uma Thurman gets to show exactly how a woman of 37 feels, faced with the 14-year gulf in intellectual and emotional maturity between Rafi and David. I truly felt her exultation and her pain, and so did every girl in the audience (which does characterize this as a chick flick). At this point the audience suddenly realized that the comedy on the surface had its darker depths.

The movie is marketed as a comedy, but it had a balanced mixture of comedy and bittersweet romance. All in all it felt more like a slightly gritty European film rather than a glossy Hollywood one. The film's writer made sure the subject was never at any point dumbed down. There was no fairy-tale ending (yes, we know Ashton and Demi got married in real life, that's Hollywood for you), but there was a realistic one that made you think.

Does it bear repeated viewing? I enjoyed watching it. My vote is Yes.

Gems From National Geographic

From National Geographic magazine, November 2005 issue:

Health - Women feel more pain - and feel pain more - than men, notes a new study. The sexes' coping strategies may hint at why. Men in the study focused on physical aspects of discomfort, which apparently helped increase pain thresholds. Women focused on pain's emotional as well as physical aspects. Their pain proved harder to treat and seemed of greater intensity.

Astronomy - A new planet with three suns in its sky has been found 149 light years from Earth. Its type is named Tatooine after the dual-sunned planet in the film "Star Wars".

From the December 2005 issue:

Health - Olive oil contains a natural painkiller, scientists say. An ingredient in olives known as oleocanthal works in much the same way as the drug ibuprofen to suppress pain-causing prostaglandins in the body. The anti-inflammatory properties of oleocanthal may help explain the reduced incidence of certain cancers, stroke, and heart disease in Mediterranean populations that traditionally use large amounts of olive oil in their diets.

Animal Kingdom - Cats can't taste sugary foods. A defective sweet-receptor gene is why, according to a new study. This antipathy toward sweets may have helped shape feline evolution in the wild, leading to a preference for muscle-building protein over carbohydrates. Or, say scientists, the gene may have become defective from lack of use in cats' high protein diet.


I truly love this magazine. I remember growing up as a kid reading my uncle's old back issues, and it felt like I was travelling a different country each time. My not-so-secret fantasy was to become a National Geographic photojournalist...