When we first meet Bill Murray’s character Vincent, we assume he is the local drunk and very much down on his luck. He’s unbearably rude, so broke he can’t even close his bank account and a perpetual loser at the horse track. An apparent misanthrope with little use for anybody other than his cat, Vincent is less than thrilled when the newly divorced Maggie, played by Melissa McCarthy, and her son Oliver relocate to Brooklyn and move in next door. Melissa is the friendly, chatty type of neighbor which instantly repels Vincent and they don’t exactly hit it off. However, when unforeseen circumstances result in young Oliver being locked out of his house, the gruff war vet is left with no choice but to take him in until his mother comes home from working late. With an unpredictable work schedule and no one else to help, Maggie reluctantly agrees to hire Vincent to babysit Oliver after school. As the film progresses, a million reasons why this wasn’t the best idea are hilariously revealed, but each character temporarily fills a void within the other and a cute, albeit unlikely, friendship of sorts is formed between the boy and his curmudgeonly neighbor.
St Vincent’s underlying story about loss and discovery is enhanced by the performances of the outstanding cast. Bill Murray shines in the title role of Vincent, proving he has not lost any of his comedic timing or acting ability. After seeing St Vincent, I am convinced that even at age 64, Murray could still single-handedly carry a film to box office success. The extremely talented Melissa McCarthy has finally found a film with a quality script that fits her personality and allows her dual opportunity to highlight her natural comedy skills while also showcasing her rarely seen dramatic side. Irish character actor Chris O’Dowd is a riot as Brother Geraghty, a priest teaching in a supposed Catholic school but with students from the religious equivalent of the UN. Offering the biggest surprise performance amongst this phenomenal group is Naomi Watts who simply steals every scene she is in with her hilarious portrayal of Daka, a Russian “lady of the night.” Daka’s relationship with Murray’s character is the perfect combined embodiment of Vincent’s complicated personality and the life experiences that have molded him into who he has currently become.
St Vincent is one of those rare films that successfully melds humor and sentimentality with a strong character driven story about people whose motivations are more complex than initially presented. Essentially a visual retelling of the old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” St Vincent is a keeper that finds the good in the seemingly worst people and is destined to be a hit with most moviegoers as the film season begins to wind down.
Written and directed by Theodore Melfi, St Vincent opens nationwide on Friday, October 24th.