Review: St. Vincent
Coming of age stories are all too frequent these days, but when they are done well, they can hit you really hard. St. Vincent on the surface looks like your typical clichéd film, with the mean next door neighbor who is an alcoholic, doesn’t seem to have anyone he cares about in his life, and is plain bitter. This man is played by Bill Murray, who is very particular about the films that he makes-and even though at first you might be scratching your head as to why this one made the cut, by the end you’ll completely understand why.
Vincent’s story becomes clearer once his new neighbor, a young boy named Oliver, comes into his life. Oliver and his mother have recently moved in because they have just left a cheating father, and Maggie (Melissa McCarthy, finally in a bearable role), gets stuck working late nights to support herself and her son. This also makes her a bit of an absentee in Oliver’s life, and she is faced with what seems to be a last resort in letting him be babysat by Vincent, the seemingly scary man who she already hasn’t started on the right foot with.
Oliver and Vincent learn and grow together, and we get a better insight into both of our leading men characters. The film begins in such a way that you instantly hate Vincent, his prostitute girlfriend (Naomi Watts) and even have a bit of disdain for Maggie and Oliver, because all of these characters just seem so overdone, and the story itself seems like nothing new. However, as the film progresses, even the most clichéd aspects of it can easily be excused because of how well done it is. This is a film that slowly unveils the reality of these characters in such a way that will catch you off guard. The film is being marketed as a dramatic comedy, but it never feels very funny. It surely will make you cry, or even sob, and it is extremely effective at jabbing you in the heart a few times.
Although the premise is highly conventional, the performances are all A+, and this instantly heightens the material. As for the story itself, in the way that it is a coming of age narrative for both the young boy and the old man, the way it both pokes fun at religion and embraces it, and the way that it takes these very cardboard cut-out characters and through a slow-burn gives them an unexpected depth, St. Vincent becomes a winner of its genre, and a film that you won’t want to miss.