Reviews and entertainment articles by Dave Simpson
Written and directed by Theodore Melfi, St. Vincent is a heartwarming tale of loss, rejuvenation and friendship. Despite being marketed as a comedy, it’s really more of a drama with comedic undertones; a fact which certainly does it no harm in any way.
The plot follows a seemingly embittered and reclusive elderly man named Vincent – played to perfection by Bill Murray – whose life revolves around alcohol and gambling. A series of unforeseen events result in his taking up the position of babysitter for his new neighbour’s 12 year old son, Oliver. As the disparate pair find themselves slowly bonding, we gradually gain a greater insight into Vincent’s troubled life through Oliver’s eyes.
There are some genuinely funny moments sparked by Vincent’s unconventional child caring methods, but the movie’s greatest strength is the amount of compassion with which it is imbued. As a deeper understanding of the titular character develops, he is revealed as a deeply sympathetic figure, with whom we are brought through the emotional wringer.
As the plot progresses, through Vincent it effectively deals with the very best and worst of what life can throw at you. And thanks to Murray’s captivating performance, we’re left feeling every moment of it.
Murray is on fine form as the lead, endowing the character with a wonderful charm. His delightfully witty performance is almost always played for laughs, even during some of the movie’s more gut-wrenchingly emotional scenes. Murray successfully portrays a clandestine kindness in Vincent, so that his sympathetic nature is maintained through some of his more unsympathetic moments.
Child actor Jaeden Lieberher enjoys some marvelous on screen chemistry with Murray as Oliver. While their relationship appears at first unorthodox, an affectionate rapport develops between them. This culminates in a beautifully poignant climax that accounts for what makes Vincent so saintly.
While Melissa McCarthy plays more of a supporting role as Oliver’s mother, Maggie, she gives an admirable performance as the struggling single parent. It’s a welcome relief from the more slapstick parts for which she is famous and makes the few comedic moments that she is given all the funnier.
Naomi Watts is entertaining as Russian “lady of the night” Daka. Her gruff, blunt exterior complements Murray’s portrayal of Vincent quite well.
Chris O’Dowd only appears in a few scenes as Brother Geraghty, but is afforded some nice laugh out loud moments as the cynical priest/school teacher.
At its core, St. Vincent is a splendidly moving dramedy about life and rediscovering oneself. Featuring an absorbing performance by the ever charismatic Bill Murray and a solid supporting cast, this altogether heartrending and very human story will have you wanting to laugh and cry as it unfolds. Ultimately though, it should leave you smiling as the credits roll.
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