St Vincent follows a Vietnam War veteran called Vincent (Bill Murray), who is left without any money or future after his stubborn and hedonistic ways. However, things change for the better when his new next door neighbour’s son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) needs a babysitter, a position Vincent is more than willing to fulfil… for a fee. The pair forms an unexpected friendship which brings the best out of each other.
Despite largely labelling itself as a comedy (especially in the trailers), St Vincent is a charming film that tackles a number of emotional issues. Whereas there are a number of laugh out loud moments sprinkled throughout, this is a film that will be remembered for Bill Murray’s strong acting performance in the lead role.
The 64-year-old brilliantly achieves the balance between the comedy and the way in which he tackles sensitive subjects such as suffering from a stroke, dealing with a gambling addiction and coping with his wife’s Alzheimer’s. The latter provides a change of pace for the film, inducing some tear-jerking scenes as part of the film’s emotional rollercoaster. Murray’s performance in St Vincent also brings out the best in newcomer Jaeden Leiberher. There’s a real chemistry between the two and it clearly shows.
As for the remainder of the largely underused supporting cast, Melissa McCarthy (who portrays Oliver’s mother Maggie) delivers her best performance since “Bridesmaids”. In St Vincent, McCarthy demonstrates that she isn’t a one trick pony, showing cinemagoers an unfamiliar emotional side, especially in a scene in which she breaks down about her home situation.
Likewise, Chris O’Dowd is excellent in his portrayal of Oliver’s Catholic teacher Brother Geraghty, bringing a certain charm to the role. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Naomi Watts, whose character (a pregnant “lady of the night”) feels incredibly out of place within the flow of the film.