Bill Murray is Vincent and it’s safe to say he’s about as far away from being a Saint as can be when St. Vincent commences. And also, to describe his latest classic Murray character as a curmudgeon in this dark comedy is merely just the beginning of how we’d label this guy.
He’s a laundry list of personality traits that are an utter delight for the audience to witness, but less than enjoyable for, frankly, anyone who has to meet him, or much less do something unthinkable like crash a moving van into his fence and break a branch off his tree.
That is exactly what the moving men that Melissa McCarthy’s Maggie have hired do, and that gets Murray and McCarthy’s neighborly exchanges off to a less than savory start. But, there’s something about her son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), that we can tell immediately that these two polar opposite males will somehow form a bond.
As you can tell from the St. Vincent trailer -- that is exactly what happens when McCarthy’s nurse has to work double shifts and overtime to afford living on her own now that she’s left Oliver’s dad for cheating on her. See, Vincent’s not ideal, but leaving her son with a neighbor seems to be her only option.
For Vincent, it’s all about the money she pays him.
But, Murray’s Vincent is crotchety on the outside and on the inside, deep down there, there’s a heart.
Writer-director Theodore Melfi has crafted a character, which has a lot more going on than he lets on. He cares for a pregnant stripper (Naomi Watts) and Vincent visits a nursing home quite regularly… of this we learn and witness through Oliver’s journeys with Vincent. Without a male role model around, and as strange and odd as it is to see, Vincent is exactly what Oliver needs at this point in his life.
Sure, complications arise, actually quite a lot of them do and that provides Melfi’s story with a rich tapestry of emotions that will keep the audience guessing. Just as soon as you think you can predict how St. Vincent is going to go, it takes a left turn and then pulls a 180 and leaves the viewer simply smiling the whole time.
We’ve been waiting for McCarthy to flex her thespian muscles in a role like this for some time. We appreciate her work with the parts she’s given in Identity Thief, The Heat and Tammy, but they feel all-too similar to one another. In St. Vincent, she’s a loving single mom, who is at the end of her rope and desperate enough to leave her only child with a neighbor, who clearly has issues with gambling and drinking. But through McCarthy’s performance, we see that she notices changes in her son that are shockingly good. So, what’s the harm?
Murray has been mentioned since the film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival as a candidate for a Best Actor nod from the Oscars. It’s that good, yes, but this is one crowded year, so we’ll see. But, taking away all that awards buzz away, this is a stripped down performance by one of our finest actors working today, who knows exactly how much salt and pepper to put into a role that makes us laugh, cringe, care, and yes, cry.
Our St. Vincent review finds that the film is a comedy, albeit a dark one, but it also has elements of a family movie (a PG-13-rated family movie!), a drama about growing old and, above all else, it is a showcase for an ensemble of actors who fit their characters and this story like a glove.