I love my Friday night movie dates, and connecting with two former students in a chance meeting at the Landmark Theater further enhanced my mood. This being said, I joined my husband for Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy’s feature, “St. Vincent”. Neither comedian Is my favorite, and I had put off seeing Theodore Melfi’s debut film until there was not much else I had not seen. A friend had told me a story of Murray’s first wife, a St.Mary of the Woods grad, who had been betrayed by him etc…and Melissa McCarthy is cruder than I like. All gossip and preferences aside, I did not have high expectations and was ready for a rather low-brow farce.
Surprised and satisfied,I can report that Murray was so engaging that not one of the fifty some filmgoers walked out until after the last credit rolled. Vintage songs liket Bob Dylan’s ,”Shelter From The Storm” deepened the reflective mood of this reflective-comedy.
Director Melfi and I have the same distain for cattle-maze-rope barriers and the phrase,”It is what it is”! Catholic school nostalgia is here,too. Those saints are first and foremost a starting point for lessons of every kind. Empathy is taught and re-taught; character development is the cornerstone. Naomi Watts is fabulous as Daka, a lady-of-the-night, even though her character is the most stereotyped. Jaeden Lieberher is smart and endearing . He looks way younger than the twelve years his role implies.
This film has a very strong beginning that uses close shots to center our focus on the debauched Vin (Murray). Murray is beautifully nuanced and so in character and so convincing as Vin that one forgets one is watching Murray. I rather became a Murray fan with this picture! The ending is strong,too, as tears and laughter mingle in a rather redemptive display of acceptance and giving. A great reminder to withhold one’s judgement until one has walked the same path!