Sunday, November 2, 2014

St. Vincent

is a wonderful film that you should not miss.  I wanted to get that out of the way right up front, in case you decide to stop reading early. 

This movie demonstrates one of the basic truths of art:  It's not the journey, it's who's taking you on the journey.  There are no new plots, no new stories, no types of paths you haven't already seen in film.  The particulars of each story are what we come for.  St. Vincent is at one level a tale we've seen way too often:  new kid in the neighborhood helps redeem crusty old guy next door, while crusty old guy next door helps new kid grow up.  Any such summary, however, does great injustice to this movie for two reasons.

The first is the script, which Theodore Melfi, whose previous work I do not know, executed with style and infused with so many grace notes that its charms gradually win you over.  Yes, as some critics have noted, the movie veers close to--and sometimes into--sentimentality, but always in interesting ways. 

The second is the acting, which is uniformly excellent.  Bill Murray deserves an Oscar for this one.  He won't get it, but he delivers here a character who displays both Murray's considerable comic talents and a subdued yet powerful dramatic presence.  Murray nails this one and is a pleasure to watch at all times.  Naomi Watts turns in a pitch-perfect turn as a hard-bitten Russian stripper and prostitute.  Melissa McCarthy dials way down her comedic side and shows she can act in dramas as well as comedies.  Chris O'Dowd, whose work I've long admired, does a beautiful job as a schoolteacher and priest.  Jaeden Lieberher plays the boy, in many ways the toughest role, and by acting relentlessly smart, quiet, and polite, he creates a special character you can believe. 

Do not miss this film.  Yes, it's sentimental at times, but that's okay; honest sentiment is a fine thing, and this one comes by its sentiments honestly. 


Michelle said...

I think Bill Murray is one of the best actors around. He always gives just the right touch needed for a performance. And, he keeps getting better and better as he ages. Something that can't be said for alot of actors in Hollywood. I have adored him from Caddyshack on. I read he is cranky and unpredictable, but that is what gives him character.He usually steals the movie, no matter how small his role is. And,I find him quite sexy in a cranky, unpredictable way.

Mark said...

He was certainly excellent in this one.


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