Title: St. Vincent
Director: Theodore Melfi
Starring: Bill Murray, Jaeden Lieberher, Melissa McCarthy
Synopsis: A young boy whose parents are separated finds an unlikely friend and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran who lives next door.
St. Vincent is a pleasant, character-driven comedy-drama that can currently be found on Netflix. This film came out a couple of years back, and has already become sort of a forgotten gem. This film will not blow you away with its story, but instead tells a relatable tale that people of all ages can enjoy. The three main characters are Vincent (Murray) a hedonistic older man, Oliver (Lieberher) a young boy, struggling to fit in school, and Maggie (McCarthy) who is a middle-aged woman who is battling custody rights with her ex-husband. These are issues that branch all ages and are real problems that so many people can relate to. This film has a lot of good going for it. Let me start with the performances.
Bill Murray is easily the stand-out and has the most challenging role out of the leads. He is tasked with playing a character that is extremely unlikable, lazy, and belligerent. However, this is a character that has a lot of depth and is fleshed out very nicely. As the movie starts to chug along, we find out more about this character and why he became the person he is in the beginning of the film. Even though it is hard to believe Murray as this type of character in the beginning of the film, because he’s so unlikable, you really start to buy into his performance and Murray as this type of character. This is a character that is hard to root for at first. Bill Murray usually plays characters that are very likable and we instantly sympathize with. This is not the case with his character Vincent. I would say the performance that is most similar to this one is his performance in Rushmore. Although, Vincent is a much worse character, but Murray does a magnificent thing of giving the character depth. This film proves you should never judge a book by its cover. Vincent a long with Naomi Watts’ character Daka (a pregnant stripper), are both characters I would probably hate in real life, but we see in this film that they both have a good side to them. This proves that not only the performances were really good, but also the writing is very solid.
Melissa McCarthy and Jaeden Lieberher play the characters that move in next-door to Vincent. These characters are much more likable and are much-needed to the story as they help bring out what is good in Vincent and Daka. Melissa McCarthy gives the best dramatic performance I have ever seen from her. It was refreshing to see her play a different type of character than the loudmouth, obnoxious characters that she normally plays. McCarthy proves she is able to play a sympatric, subtle character and gave her meaning. She is more of the straight person to the dysfunctional characters that Murray and Watts play. Jaeden Lieberher was an important character and the film could have easily lived or died with him. What I mean by that is his character plays a large role and is crucial to the story. However, he is just a young child actor, so he really needed to give a realistic performance, unlike a lot of child actors tend to do. The good news is he is fantastic in this film. His performance is not only believable, but performed extremely well by Lieberher. His character, Oliver, and Vincent were a great duo, and Oliver really brought out the good side of Vincent. At the end of the day, this is what the film is all about. No matter how bad your life is going, you should never ignore the good things a long the way, and the people close to you that can help and be by your side.
The screenplay is very good in this film, and offers some great humor along with some great drama. It is an ambitious script that really gives the actors in this film some fantastic roles and helps bring out their acting chops. The story does start out really slow, and there are a handful of scenes that are uneventful and doesn’t help with the pacing of this film at all. St. Vincent is a film that will not instantly blow you away or allow the audience to get invented quickly, but requires the audience to be patient and let the characters develop. It is hard to see this film becoming a classic or something that will be remembered in five years, but tells a really good story with some great life lessons.
Overall, St. Vincent is a well-written and acted independent film that has a nice dynamic of comedy and drama. It isn’t the most memorable film, but really relishes in telling a realistic story that people of all ages can find something to latch on to. The three main adult leads all play characters they are not accustomed to playing, but portray them with ease. St. Vincent is well-directed and written by Theodore Melfi and I look forward to seeing what else he has in store in the upcoming years as a filmmaker. My grade for this film is: