For All The Saints - Especially St.Vincent
An older man bonds with his new neighbors in an unexpected fashion in St. Vincent. Bill Murray stars as Vincent McKenna, a Brooklyn man with little money and no apparent source of income. He spends a lot of time at the track, where he's lost a lot of money, and borrowed more from an acqauintance named Zucko (Terrence Howard), who wants repayment. He also spends time at a strip club, drinking and paying for the company of Daka Pemakova (Naomi Watts), who dances there. When she becomes noticably pregnant by Vincent, she loses her job.
Meanwhile, Vincent gets a new neighbor in Maggie Bronstein (Melissa McCarthy), a divorced hospital CT tech whose work often keeps her at the job late. Even though he's not interested in being neighborly, Vincent agrees to look after her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), once he comes home from school. Vincent insists on being paid as hr takes the boy on his daily rounds, which include a visit to the nursing home where his wife Sandy (Donna Mitchell) now lives. The boy grows curious about his new neighbor. Vincent, however, suffers a stroke during a home invasion orchestrated by Zucko. Once he recovers, Daka moves in to care for him and their impending arrival. In spite of some questionable behavior toward him, Oliver makes Vincent the subject of a modern day saints project assigned him by his teacher, Brother Geraghty (Chris O'Dowd).
St. Vincent marks the feature film debut of Theodore Melfi, who also wrote the script. This film is a solid dramedy, where the laughs lead to a more serious insight of Vincent. He's not a man bankrupt of morals or compassion. He'd wanted his retirement to be more comfortable than it turned out to be, but circumstances dictated that wouldn't happen. He's become desperate and frustrated with a world that would let him become so destitute, he couldn't better afford to enjoy his later years. As a result, he acts out in ways he wouldn't were his situation different. Melfi doesn't resolve all of the issues that he should, but he does show Vincent hasn't gotten completely lost in his life.
Murray continues to show his ability to make audiences care about a disillusioned character who still has decency and humanity - as well as a sense of humor. Oliver, Maggie, and Daka may sometimes be the last people Vincent wants close to him, but he learns through them that not all that comes his way is bad. He teaches Oliver a way to get along in his new school when the boy gets picked on by a classmate, and shows the boy a side of him few know. Lieberher is fun as a young man who finds the good in people, including Vincent. When Vincent tells the boy the rules for their time together, he obeys. Watts is especially funny as Daka, who's complaining about her job and Vincent's inability to pay for their time. Yet, she also pushes Vincent when company grows into responsibility. I also enjoyed McCarthy in support as Maggie, who's doing her best to deal with her post-divorce life. O'Dowd also brings laughs as the Catholic school teacher dealing with a number of non-Catholics, including Oliver, who thinks he might be Jewish.
Some people will leave others with a bad initial impression about themselves. Only with continued contact with such as person will these others see the goodness and the things that make such a person tick. In St. Vincent, an older man extends kindness in a way that might not be obvious to others. A boy in his care comes to understand that as he gets to know his problem-filled neighbor. Vincent McKenna is far from perfect, but even Brother Geraghty concedes that the saints of his religion might not seem very holy on closer examination.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give St. Vincent 3.5 stars. No miracles - just thoughtful and humorous insight on a man who helps neighbors in need.