St. Vincent, stars not one but 3 Oscar nominees, needlessly to say that expectations are quite high. Written and directed by Theodore Melfi, it deals with an unlikely bond between a young boy, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) and his anti-social, unfriendly neighbor Vincent (Bill Murray) after he moves to a new home with his mother Maggie (Melissa McCarthy). Series of events leads to Vincent having to baby-sit Oliver after school, simultaneously and coincidentally Oliver has to prepare a saints among us presentation. While all this is happening, Maggie is going through a divorce and a custody battle with her ex-husband, during which Vincent’s pregnant, stripper girlfriend, Daka (Naomi Watts) enters. While the premise is interesting, the film isn’t.
Going by the logic shown in the film, it would appear that almost all of us are saints in one way or the other. Don’t we all do what’s right, look after our partners or occasionally do someone random a favor? Well that’s exactly what Vincent does, yet is proclaimed a ‘Saint.’ Oliver chose Vincent as his saint for his school presentation, even though he takes him to horse racing where gets the 13-year-old to bet money, after which he makes him lie about winning to avoid paying money to his debtors and takes him to bar quite a few times. Oliver then be-friends Daka, who Vincent refers to as his ‘Lady of the night.’ Only good thing that comes out of that is the Oliver starts to see the saintly qualities hidden in Vincent, like him taking care of his sick wife for 8 years or teaching him to fight and break noses. These ‘saintly’ qualities pale in comparison to not so saintly things Vincent does.
We can argue against all the qualities that Oliver uses to describe Vincent as a saint in his presentation. At one point, Oliver says that Vincent took him in when he didn’t have too. Well, Vincent gets money in return for ‘taking him in,’ so why wouldn’t he. Sure, he’s been to the war that would make him, a war veteran, not a saint. In the end I was left wondering what Melfi thinks a saint actually is, does a saint bash on religion? Does he talk to a 13 year of about strippers, sex, profanity and ‘lady of the light’? Does a saint gets his pregnant girlfriend to sell prescription medicines that he stole from the hospital? At point in the film he lashes out at Oliver, telling him to stop living his life through him, that comes after Oliver and his mother took care of him while he was in the hospital. If you ask me, his hard working mother Maggie is a bigger saint that Vincent ever could hope to be.
Brilliant performances by all the actors are let down by not so good script. Melissa McCarthy is a standout for me, especially in the scene with the Oliver’s principal and teacher. Her changes of expressions from awkward laughter to crying are seamless and leave a long-lasting impact on you. Naomi Watts is unrecognizable in the prostitute attire and a thick accent, which she pulls off with a lot of charisma. Finally Bill Murray is great as not-so-likable neighbor, for me though he is not likable at all, which says a lot about his natural performance as Vincent, he becomes and lives his on-screen persona. His Golden Globe nomination is well deserved. Debutante Jaeden Lieberher is likable as Oliver, watch out for this kid.
What bugs me even more is that this film had a lot of potential. Seeing saint-hood qualities in worst of people is an intriguing theme, yet for me it did not come across. Wish Vincent came across as more of an enriched man than he did. I wanted to see what Oliver sees in him, but I couldn’t. I’ll think twice before watching this saint on-screen. After all he does gets his stripper girlfriend pregnant while still being married to his sick wife. If that’s not enough film stars off with Vincent having sex with Daka. I’ll leave it at that.
My rating, Two Stars.
Image derived from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2170593/
Please like on Facebook