“St. Vincent” was written and directed by Theodore Melfi. It stars Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard, and Jaeden Lieberher. The film is now playing.
Actor and beloved American icon Bill Murray has had a pretty fantastic career. From a stint on Saturday Night Live to an amazingly successful run of comedies in the eighties and nineties alone you could say that. But he’s been able to age gracefully and keep his career going in a way that Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd haven’t been able to. Every year he gets good, relevant work (largely due to his presence in Wes Anderson’s stable as well as a great performance in Lost in Translation), but it’s been awhile since he’s been in a family movie. And St. Vincent is, at its core, a family movie (give or take a non-explicit sex scene).
Murray plays Vincent, a retired war veteran who has almost run out of money and has hardly anyone left in his life. He’s a heavy drinker and gambler and generally a grouch. But then, Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move in, and Vincent begins watching Oliver after school.
None of what follows is especially revelatory or original, but sometimes that’s not necessary. What makes St. Vincent work are the performances. Murray is very charming in a role that I can’t quite recall him playing before. At this point in his life, he is believable as a grouchy old man. The film is successful with regards to how it handles his character. Vincent strikes a balance between being rough-edged and irresponsible and being a wounded, ultimately tender soul. I was worried that he would fall too firmly in the latter category and was pleasantly surprised that there is some grit to Vincent (not enough to label him an antihero or anything, but it’s there). McCarthy and Lieberher are convincing as mother and son. Their family situation feels plausible McCarthy is believably stressed as the story progresses. Naomi Watts, playing a pregnant prostitute and friend of Vincent’s, is also quite likable in her role, pulling off a competent Russian accent. Terrence Howard is fine as well, but his character feels entirely unnecessary, like an awkward holdover from an earlier draft of the script.
St. Vincent is a harmless, pleasant, comfortable movie. There’s a real warmth and earnestness to it, and sometimes that’s all you need.
This week, director Theodore Melfi, producers Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Red Roos, and cast Bill Murray, Naomi Watts and Jaeden Lieberher attended the New York premiere of The Weinstein Company’s release at the Ziegfeld Theatre. The evening was hosted in partnership with Lexus. Following the screening everyone gathered at the after party at Bar 44 in the Royalton Hotel.