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USA 2014
Directed by
Theodore Melfi
102 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Angie Fox
3.5 stars

St Vincent

Synopsis: Vincent (Bill Murray) is a cantankerous, Vietnam veteran who lives in near squalor, sleeps with pregnant Russian prostitute, Daka (Naomi Watts), and nurses considerable drinking and gambling problems. When Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) and his mother, Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), who has just left her unfaithful husband, move in next door an unlikely relationship emerges.

The feel-good comedy of the holiday season, St Vincent might be sentimental, it might even tug at the heartstrings a little too tightly, but it’s still one of the most entertaining, uplifting and enjoyable films released this year.

Its success is largely due to the acting chops of its stars.  Bill Murray is …. well he’s Bill Murray. The role was written for him and no one could play it better. It is Murray’s inimitable facial expressions that render his character – a man who teaches a young boy about gambling and “ladies of the night” – infinitely likeable.

As Vincent, the unlikely saint in sinner’s clothes, he appears slightly more animated than he has in recent films such as Broken Flowers and Lost In TranslationHe is still playing a lost soul but his performance is more of a return to his earlier form in classic '80s comedies like Caddyshack. In St Vincent it appears as though he is having fun with the witty script and the flawed, unlikely hero character.

As his counterpart in this odd couple story Jaeden Liebherer is like a young Culkin (Macauley, Rory, Kieran - take your pick) - wide-eyed and innocent yet able to hold his own opposite a comedy legend. While he is responsible for delivering the film’s message - that even today saints reside all around us if we manage to see past our own prejudices - he successfully downplays much of the potential sentimentality and holds the film back from entering treacle territory.

Whilst a comedian of no lesser stature than Murray, Melissa McCarthy plays struggling, single mother Maggie straight, proving that she can carry off a dramatically demanding role.. Meanwhile Naomi Watts nails her Russian accent and delivers some of the film’s most humorous one-liners although some feel that her casting is a little too distracting and that really an actress of any non-English nationality would have given the film a greater degree of authenticity. .

Ultimately, St Vincent is a small film with an important message delivered with great humour and sensitivity.




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