St Vincent (2014) Directed by Theodore Melfi. With Bill Murray, Meliissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd and Jaeden Lieberher.
Written and directed by Theodore Melfi, St Vincent is a comedy-drama set around a curious set of relationships between a grouchy old man, a working single mother, a bright young boy, and a pregnant pole-dancing Russian prostitute.
Melfi assembles a good cast, headed up by Bill Murray in the kind of role he was born to play. It’s hard to think of another comedy actor with the ability to raise a laugh without having to move a muscle in his face, like Murray. His performance as the titular ‘Vincent’ of the piece, plays that same joyfully dour line of comedy drama that has lit up so many of his other roles. What’s more, Murray is superbly supported by Jaeden Lieberher, a self-effacing young boy with whom he strikes an unlikely friendship.
Outside of the central narrative stream of Murray and his young pal, Naomi Watts is fun as Daka, the heavily pregnant, pole dancing ‘lady of the night’. Watts’ performance comes complete with a comedy Russian accent, 15 layers of fake tan and pink hair highlights. Some critics have rounded on Watts for her accent, (a-hem Mark Kermode) but in truth, she adds a fun layer of offbeat trashiness to Murray’s world.
As things stretch out, we discover there’s a lot more to Vincent than the crotchety old bum we meet. Melfi’s script is actually quite touching, and despite it edging toward a more sentimental climax than some may be comfortable with, the sentiment is well earned thanks to appealing characters that we are able to laugh along with. Aside from it being fairly predictable, there’s little else to dislike about St Vincent. Its heart is in the right place with life-affirming intentions scattered around likeable characters and a good sense of humour. 3.5/5