Cert: 12A Runtime: 102 mins Director: Theodore Melfi Cast: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard and Jaeden Lieberher
Love Thy Neighbour
Let’s be honest with ourselves we all watched this for Bill Murray. For me St. Vincent seemed sweet and thoughtful, but the supporting cast of the typed cast Melissa McCarthy was a spanner in the works for me. A lot has been said about it Murray might be seeing award nominations ahead of him. So what is St. Vincent about? Vincent (Bill Murray) is an old Vietnam vet whose stubbornly hedonistic ways have left him without money or a future. Things change when his new next-door neighbor’s son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), needs a babysitter and Vince is willing enough for a fee. From that self-serving act, an unexpected friendship forms as Vincent and Oliver find so much of each other’s needs through each other. As Vincent mentors Oliver in street survival and other worldly ways, Oliver begins to see more in the old man than just his foibles. When life takes a turn for the worse for Vincent, both them find the best in each other than no one around them suspects.
Each individual performance in St. Vincent was unique and special in its own way. Melissa McCarthy gives us a refreshing taste of a more mild and subdue character. McCarthy drives home the loving, protective and strong-willed qualities of her character, and certainly passes the obnoxious character to pregnant stripper Naomi Watts. What can I say about Bill Murray and his performance? After seeing the film, I can’t imagine someone else doing a better job of bringing the multi-faceted Vincent to life on the big screen. Yes, Vincent is bitter, a heavy drinker, a crappy driver, a rude neighbor, and a somewhat horrible manager of his finances, but he has a big heart buried deep within.It’s just really hard to find for the first hour of the movie. Appearance vs. Reality is clearly one of the more prominent themes of the film, and Murray does a wonderful job of exemplifying the concept with his character. The last noteworthy actor is young Jaeden Lieberher. Remember that name because based on St. Vincent, Lieberher will have a successful career as an actor. He exhibits a great deal of fluidness with his acting that is not strained or forced, a rarity in actors of his age. It also doesn’t hurt to work around a cast of immensely talented actors and actresses. Besides some of the great individual performances, St. Vincent works so well because of the steady balance between comedy and drama.
The film wasn’t filled with the kind of laugh-out- loud moments that make you snort and work your abs, but it did contain consistent laughs or smiles which kept the film on the lighter side especially in lieu of the more serious themes and scenes. And speaking of serious themes/scenes, Melfi wasn’t afraid to tackle a spectrum of problems such as aging, loss, single parenting, bullying, drinking…etc. which provided more depth and scope to the film. Granted, we didn’t dive nose-deep into any one of these topics, but drove by them occasionally bumping into a few as Murray did in his barely running convertible. Although I was greatly impressed by the performances, casting, comedy and drama, there were a few clichés that held the film back from potentially being much greater. Unfortunately come clichés are bigger than others and originality is something that I’m truly fond of. For example, you can almost sense a majority of the plot the moment Maggie comes over to Murray’s house, and Oliver’s bullying was almost expected. Many of the other clichés are minimalistic in nature, but there were several more unfortunately.St. Vincent is one of the best feel good movies of the year.