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St. Vincent - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
St. Vincent
Directing: B+
Acting: A
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B+
Editing: A-

It's impossible to imagine anyone but Bill Murray in the title role of St. Vincent, a delightful film about a hedonistic old man that is crammed with touching humanity. It's also filled with characters that miraculously avoid caricature, for which we can thank writer and director Theodore Melfi.

Melfi is a first-time feature director who write the part with Murray in mind, and as Murray notoriously has nothing remotely close to Hollywood handlers (no manager, no agent) beyond an attorney, had to jump through a few hoops to connect with him. And it all worked out in the end, quite perfectly. What would Melfi have done had he not been able to get Murray? It's entirely possible he would have made a fine movie with a fine actor. But Murray makes it great.

And not just Murray. Vincent is in a twisted but sweet relationship with a much younger, Russian stripper/hooker named Daka who is carrying his child. Daka is played with nuance and precision by Naomi Watts, who disappears in the role. And perhaps most refreshingly, we get Melissa McCarthy in arguably the best role she's done to date, as Maggie, the single mother who moves in next door to Vincent, and gets blamed for the broken fence and car when her hired movers knock a branch off his tree with their moving van. (Actually Vincent drunkenly smashed the fence with his own car the night before.) This role is a massive departure for the eminently talented McCarthy, who surprisingly gets none of the laughs in this movie -- she totally plays the straight part, as the struggling and overworked parent of a tween boy for whom she needs a babysitter. But she also elicits the most empathy. It's wonderful to see her shine in something other than perfectly timed physical comedy in otherwise mediocre films.

And then there's Jaeden Lieberher as the scrawny Oliver, a boy who is alternately nonplussed and unperturbed by Vincent's behavior. Lieberher is serviceable as an actor as young as he is; neither amazing nor the kind of creepy-precocious too many actors his age are. He fits quite comfortably in the cast.

A few other great actors rounding out the cast include Chris O'Dowd as a teacher at the surprisingly multifaith-inclusive Catholic school Maggie is sending Oliver to; Terrence Howard as the mean threatening to shake Vincent down for money he owes at the race track; and The Neighbors' Leny Venito as Oliver's P.E. coach. None of these guys particularly get to shine, but one can only imagine they took their respectively non-showy roles because they were proud to be part of such a wonderful, touching film.

Granted, St. Vincent does get a little Hollywood-gooey at the end, with a rousing speech Oliver gives in praise of his unlikely idol, the grouchy neighbor Maggie hired to babysit because she had no better options. This scene is complete with the typically obtrusive score and even a crowd bursting into applause, but in context, it still works. It may be so typical of lesser movies that for a moment it takes you out of this one, but the rest of St. Vincent is so great that it's easily forgiven.

In the meantime, Bill Murray is the heart and soul of this film and a genuine delight to watch, in what could be called his greatest role since Lost in Translation. Vincent is in many ways a largely overdone character, the jerky old man with a heart of gold, but Murray makes Vincent his own, and elevates everyone around him, and the movie on the whole, as a result. The supporting cast should not be discounted, however, particularly McCarthy and Watts, both of whom offer unique takes and humanity to their characters. They are all people with relatable flaws, some of them that cut deep, and you can't help but root for every one of them. The final result is therefore a movie that can be easily recommended to anyone.

Bill Murray is the best of many great things in ST. VINCENT.

Overall: A-
1 comment or Leave a comment
tommy50702 From: tommy50702 Date: December 16th, 2014 01:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Forgot about this one… will definitely be checking it out at some point.
1 comment or Leave a comment