Saturday, December 20, 2014

St. Vincent

Movie Name: St. Vincent
Year of Release: 2014
Director: Theodore Melfi
Stars: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O'Dowd, Terrence Howard, Jaeden Lieberher, Kimberly Quinn, Lenny Venito, Nate Corddry, Dario Barosso, Donna Mitchell, Ann Dowd, Scott Adsit, Deirdre O'Connell, Reg E. Cathey
Genre: Comey, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

"St. Vincent" is director's Theodore Melfi's debut feature, after a series of short features which he directed from 1999 onwards. The film follows the story of Vincent, a man in his 60s, whose life is changed by the arrival of new neighbors. Amongst these new neighbors is a precocious and polite little boy by the name of Oliver, who due to his mom's work schedule, finds himself spending time with Vincent, as an awkward babysitter. Vincent has all sorts of bad habits, which includes drinking, gambling, and also dating a Russian, pregnant prostitute by the name of Daka. As Vincent and Oliver become more familiar with each other, the young boy realizes there's more to Vincent than his brisk and rough exterior.
Director Theodore Melfi, who also is the screenwriter of the film, manages to successfully bring to life a small group of characters, particularly the central iconic one wonderfully played by Bill Murray. Vincent is a modern Walter Matthau - a rough exterior with a vicious wit, but with more than one side to him. The film follows the traditional register of the young boy, coming of age, who learns all sorts of habits from the less respectable side of life, and who learns to enjoy it in the process (all themes that have been explored countless times in other films). The film starts building this universe quite refreshingly, but quickly delves into a more familiar and visited territory, which ultimately is redeemed by the performances of the main cast. Bill Murray is excellent, as usual, showcasing a character that is acid, sweet, intelligent, and multifaceted. Naomi Watts is the comic gem of the film, playing the Russian prostitute, who is dry and always focused on business - it's a lighter character for her, in a career traditionally associated with dramas, whereas Melissa McCarthy ends up being more muted in a performance that asks her to be the more emotionally crippled mother of the central character. This is a film that lives solely from the performances that it captures, and for that alone, it deserves to be seen.