Bill Murray is a brilliant actor. We know this because many of us have seen movies like Lost in Translation, Groundhog Day and Ghostbusters. Now, the actor has put in a scintillating performance as Vincent MacKenna in St Vincent, a little gem of a movie, which is in parts sentimental and feel-good, but also equally heartfelt and brilliant.
I discovered St Vincent while browsing on YouTube tonight. They have this paid section for movies and I chose the movie, trusting Murray and the four-star rating from Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie is mostly a comedy though it has some pretty intense dramatic sequences. Murray is really funny is his own laid back, mild kind of way. Melissa McCarthy, who also has a gift for comedy, lands a plum role as Vincent’s neighbour, Maggie Bronstein.
Maggie has a young adopted son, Oliver, played by newcomer Jaeden Lieberher and is going through a divorce. Oliver and Vincent strike an unlikely friendship and Lieberher’s role is a cohesive one, bringing together most of the major characters of the movie.
Naomi Watts plays a strip dancer, who is pregnant. Vincent is one of her regular customers.
The movie revolves around the life of Vincent, who underneath his sarcastic, mean and grouchy exterior has a heart of gold, which Oliver is quick to sense.
The dialogues are of standout quality. They are sharply written and Oliver’s monologue at the end is incisive. Lieberher is superb as Oliver and plays him as a charming, intelligent and lovable kid. It is a give and take relationship between Oliver and Vincent, who despite odds help each other pull along.
The cinematography and background score are non-intrusive and sublime. Some well-known rock songs also dot the movie’s soundtrack, especially Bob Dylan’s Shelter from the Storm, which booms as the end credits roll. Murray quite delightfully mumbles along the words.
The movie is a snapshot of modern America. The prostitute who is pregnant, the woman who can’t conceive, the Vietnam War veteran, the boy with inner dignity are all people who are part and parcel of the country. St Vincent is a not too bad an attempt in asking us to invest our emotions in these characters, who in turn restore our faith in humanity.