Genre: Comedy, Drama
Directed by: Theodore Melfi
Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher
If one of your characters happens to be a grouchy, beer guzzling, chain smoking, foul mouthed older gentleman who wanders through life on a float of his own flaws, regrets and general disdain for all things human, it seems to be a common law in storytelling to throw him into the world of surrogate fatherhood; life lessons may be learnt and hidden depths may be revealed beneath all the crotchety cursing.
So of course, the moment Bill Murray’s grouchy Vietnam veteran, Vincent McKenna, agrees to babysit his new neighbour’s son for a few hours in exchange for a nominal fee, it’s immediately apparent where St. Vincent is headed. Yet despite its predictable plot, there’s a certain feel good factor to be found in the story, even if it does come with an added layer of schmaltz.
Bill Murray is at his crotchety dead pan best as Vincent. As well as all the cursing and general grouchiness, it’s in the film’s more intimate scenes that Murray shines. A moving subplot involving Vincent’s Alzheimer’s stricken wife, allows for Murray to give added depth and pain to a character who, in lesser capable hands, could’ve become something of a one joke miser.
One of the key strengths of Melfi’s screenplay is that these more intimate scenes never feel out of place in tone with the rest of the action. They perfectly complement events as they unfold, particularly with Murray’s wonderful budding chemistry with young newcomer Jaeden Lieberher.
Melissa McCarthy also shines as the recently divorced mother struggling to make a new life. She brings a delicate warmth to the role of Maggie, which allows her to exercise her dramatic chops, something we haven’t seen since John August’s The Nines. Naomi Watts meanwhile, struggles with her accent but is a whole lot of fun as Vincent’s Eastern European pregnant lady of the night.
It’s highly doubtful that St. Vincent will trouble awards voters this season, but despite its predictable nature, there is plenty of heart and warmth to be found, with Bill Murray putting on a fine central performance.