ST. VINCENT

★★★

Dir: Theodore Melfi

(2014)

St. Vincent’s sugar-coated “cantankerous old man meets the sweet young kid next-door and learns about himself” synopsis might make your last meal rise in your throat but a great script and a fine performance by the legendary Bill Murray should be enough to put this on your to watch list. Murray’s dead pan hell raiser is 65 now and his doe eyes and gruff voice work wonders here just as they have before as first time writer/director Theodore Melfi casts him as Vincent; An alcoholic, gambling drunk with a buried past and a twinkle in his eye.

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Enter the newly separated Maggie (a well under played Melissa McCarthy) and her 12-year-old son Oliver (a wonderful find in Jaeden Lieberher). The pair move in next door and without a babysitter and with a demanding job working as a CAT specialist Oliver finds himself in the company of a brilliantly venomous and reluctant Vincent. Visits to the race track and the local bar are all obvious set ups but Melfi handles the more clichéd moments with a fine touch, letting Murray’s best performance in years take the schmaltzy edge off.

Naomi Watts might put your teeth on edge a little as Vincent’s regular lady of the night; A pregnant Russian hooker with a heart of gold but in fact she grows on you and takes some of the films best final lines. Lieberher and Murray are great together; Touching and funny with echoes of Max Fisher and Herman Bloom in Wes Anderson‘s Rushmore. The finale will affect you if you let it or if it’s been one of those days, much in the way David O’Russell‘s Silver Linings Playbook did or, to a lesser extent Little Miss Sunshine. Just like those fine tuned crowd pleasers the climax is obvious; It won’t knock your socks off but St Vincent is certainly brisk, sweet fun with a fine chemistry at the centre in Lieberher and Murray.

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