Posted by Jill Boniske aka Arty Chick on October 30, 2014
St. Vincent is a surprisingly feel good flick, and a great deal of that is due the performance of Bill Murray, who has followed his early comedy career with some wonderful dramatic turns. He is fortunate to have teamed up with a very talented newby writer/director who crafted a layered character for him to sink his teeth into. But the film also has what could have been a pretty cliched story at its center that is slowly turned on its head as the film chugs along. Not that Bill Murray isn’t funny in this role. There are some very funny bits in that deadpan, world weary way only he can pull off. It’s just that the laughter is tempered with some dramatic moments that keep it from being typical curmudgeon comedy.
The gist of the story is that a newly divorced mom (Melissa McCarthy) and her 12-year-old son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move in next door to Vincent (Murray), who they meet as their movers have just crushed his car with a tree limb. It is not love at first sight. But the next day at his new Catholic school a bully takes Oliver’s keys and cell phone, and he finds himself locked out of his house, so the only person he can turn to is, you guessed it, Vincent, who in serious debt to his bookie and his every Tuesday hooker, signs on to be Oliver’s after-school babysitter. At a new job and still smarting from her divorce, Maggie doesn’t notice that Vincent is taking Oliver to the track and to his local bar and hanging out with Vincent’s favorite pregnant Russian hooker Daka. She only finds out in a child custody hearing. Ouch! Only Oliver sees this new life as a bit of an adventure and sees through Vincent’s gruff mask, of course, and ultimately elevates him to saintly stature.
The casting of St. Vincent was well thought out. It is nice to see Melissa McCarthy in a role where she is not the foul mouthed comic relief for a change. And Naomi Watt’s preggers hooker with a heart of gold is extremely funny. Chris O’Dowd’s performance as the priest/teacher at Oliver’s school is also a lot of fun. But it is the relationship between Vincent and Oliver that is the heart of the film. It is funny and sweet and ultimately heart-warming. It is not a perfect film, but is definitely worth seeing. You do have to be a fan of Bill Murray, but then who isn’t.
Fun but extraneous fact: Saint Vincent is the patron of Vintners.