stvincent

REVIEW: ST. VINCENT

If there are saints among us, St. Vincent, led by the renowned Bill Murray, has earned it as far as films go.

Murray plays Vincent, a down on his luck curmudgeon in the midst of losing his house, owing money to a loan shark (Terrence Howard) and canoodling with Daka, a pregnant Russian stripper (Naomi Watts). Enter Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), a hard working single mom trying to start over after leaving her cheating husband. She and Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), her 12 year old son, move next door to Vincent. Maggie’s new job demands long hours which leaves Oliver alone after school. Vincent sees an opportunity to make some much needed cash and so he becomes Oliver’s alcohol soaked babysitter.

Vincent brings Oliver along to the horse track, the bar, and the strip club and shows him how to defend himself from the bullies at his new Catholic school. While he is a bad influence you wouldn’t trust with a house plant, he does manage to teach Oliver a few important lessons.

Halfway through the film we see Vincent visiting a woman named Sandy at a convalescent home. It is not clear who she is until later. We also see him care for Daka, the aloof pregnant stripper. It humanizes him and almost makes you understand his life choices.

When Oliver’s teacher (Chris O’Dowd) gives the class an assignment to find saints in their everyday lives, he leads us to discoveries about Vincent that are more complex than we had expected.

Melissa McCarthy is relatable in a role that is a departure from her previous comedic films. Naomi Watts is convincing as a nervous first time mom with a tough exterior, and she nails a Russian accent. Chris O’Dowd brings charm and wit to the film with perfect timing. Jaeden Lieberher will win you over with his vulnerability and good manners. This is his second movie role and will surely not be his last. Bill Murray is an endearing mess that will leave you wondering what that cranky old guy in your neighborhood’s story is.

St. Vincent is currently playing at The Showroom in Asbury Park. For showtimes visit www.theshowroomap.com.

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