Need someone to play a laid back jerk who’s still likable to the audience? Call in the king Bill Murray. I don’t know if it’s Murray’s charm or ease for drawing out comedy in any situation, but the character Vincent in his latest film St. Vincent could never repel me no matter how rough his edges were.
St. Vincent follows the story of a brash, gambling, drinking, and whoring Vincent who survives through his negative bank allowance by drinking and gambling even more (he’s basically an older student). When new neighbours Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her outcast son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move in next door, Vincent ends up with the very unlikely role of becoming a nanny, because who wouldn’t want an uncouth drunk taking your son to the racetracks!
The storyline itself is unfortunately pretty cliché: the unwilling role model takes the bullied boy under his wing, teaches him how to fight, and they eventually form a friendship after a few adventures together. It’s not really anything new or groundbreaking, but the small unique details are what kept it interesting. Vincent’s heart breaking backstory only propels your fondness for him and some small, surprisingly good deeds combined with Murray’s fantastic acting results in a wholly human character who portrays the struggles of life with a sad grace. Seemingly always dealt a bad hand in life, the deep rooted affection you eventually develop for Vincent made watching him step into the many pitfalls unbearable.
Melissa McCarthy performs an exhausted and taxed single mother brilliantly, offering a very different character from what we’re used to seeing from her. Lieberher’s a rare child actor who can actually act, which is a nice change from static and awkward performances audiences usually have to endure.
All in all, St. Vincent is an enjoyable and even poignant film. It’s a pretty typical indie film with the high points accompanied by a foot stomping soundtrack, and the raw low points crafted with intricate care which leaves them resting heavily in your core. Really, like most Murray films, it’s worth a watch purely for him playing a grumpy old git.