Plot – A young boy whose parents have just divorced finds an unlikely friend and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran who lives next door.
Director – Theodore Melfi
Released – 2014
I must admit that St. Vincent somewhat passed me by when it came out, it didn’t get any Oscar buzz and I can’t remember seeing any trailers, which makes ut all the better when I happened upon this film and realised how truly touching it really is. With terrific performances across the board that helped balance the comedic with the dramatic, something that directors can sometimes very difficult to achieve.
St Vincent is all about individual performances, each was unique and special in their own way. Starting with McCarthy, giving a more nuanced and toned down performance than the more boisterous roles we have seen her give in the past. McCarthy is believable as a loving, protective and strong-willed mother attempting to do the best for her young son while working long shifts in a hospital, the perfect counterpoint to the more carefree and obnoxious pregnant stripper played by Watts.
However, its Murray that once again proves to be the star of the show, just like when he popped up in Zombieland it’s evident to see that he still has the comic timing and natural charisma that made him a star in the first place. I’m happy to see that he is willing to take a risk by agreeing to be in Melfi’s debut project and I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job of bringing the clearly damaged and layered character of Vincent to life. You can tell that there is something just below the service that’s making him so bitter and world-weary, but also his big heart and loyalty to the people he holds dear.
The last of the main cast and probably the most important character is Oliver, portrayed wonderfully by young Jaeden Lieberher. He provides the film with a lovely dose of childhood wonder, most of which is down to his natural acting style, which feels wise beyond his years, never feeling strained or forced. I’m sure he was also provided with a multitude of tips from the cast of immensely talented actors and actresses that surrounded him.
Moving on from the great individual performances, St. Vincent works well because of the perfect balance between comedy and drama that I mentioned above. You won’t find multiple moments of laugh-out-loud comedy, however, it does contain a more natural and true to life level of levity, that will provoke laughs or smiles throughout. Thus helping the more serious themes and moments that pop-up to also feel more natural, including ageing, loss, single parenting, bullying, alcoholism.
Sure there are a few cliche moments that you have seen done before, such as Oliver being bullied, or certain character decisions Vincent makes, however, St. Vincent remains a touching feel-good story that will not only give you few good chuckles and if like me, may even bring a tear or two.