Movie Review: St. Vincent  

Originally written for the UWM Post here:

St Vincent is not for me.

Chris O’Dowd is good in his supporting bit as a surprisingly pluralistic and good natured priest. Melissa McCarthy nails her role as a single mom who is making ends meet to see her son at a good private school. It’s not Bill Murray, who did everything the script asked him to. This includes the tough job of being a drunkard vet with a thing for “women of the night,” who somehow needs us to see his inner goodness. It’s definitely not Naomi Watts’ bizarre transformation as Daka, the pregnant prostitute stripper that maybe falls in love with Bill Murray’s Vincent. All these performances were better than good, even child actor Jaeden Lieberher is charmingly watchable.

If any of these performances seem like something you want to see, this film provides you with a place to see them. But it doesn’t quite weave the performances into a tight enough drama. Things just sort of happen. Bill Murray’s Vincent is a tragic character. The movie makes him dirty, but then shows him visiting his wife who’s dying of dementia, and taking his stripper prostitute to get an ultrasound. So now we’re supposed to like him? Vincent gets a stroke in the film. This is the most blatant anti-drama that the movie creates. It forces us as an audience to like Vincent. You can’t hate a guy who is about to die, or almost died, and is left speech impaired. A painfully long portion of the film is spent in this trap.

It’s how the movie ends that I have a problem with. St. Vincent has a happy ending. Vincent is named a “saint” by the child he has babysat, and endangered. The societal forgiveness hits the wrong chord for me. Everything is wrong about how “right” everything goes at the end. Because? There’s no reason for the mobsters who hound Vincent to go away… but they do. The money Vincent took from his neighbor kid’s savings account is never mentioned again. Even the bully who beats up Oliver, the neighbor kid, becomes friends with him at the end. The cheating, absent father of the neighbor kid makes peace, off screen might I add.

This could have been a depressing movie about a spiral of self destruction by a sad impoverished man, alienating the only people who could have loved him. But instead, it lets him get away with those alienating actions by simply glossing over them. Why does the prostitute stick around? Because she does not get a lot of work pregnant or because Vincent is the only one who really loved her? The movie never says.

Obviously, the film is trying to get us to empathize with Vincent. By the end however, not much changes.

I was sorely disappointed in this movie. It was advertised as “Bad Words,” the Jason Bateman spelling bee comedy, but better. What I got was a wandering, sentimental sermon about appreciating the disheveled elderly. I wish this film was the sum of it’s parts, which were good, but it isn’t.

You can see St. Vincent at AMC Mayfair, Marcus Cinemas, and The Landmark Downer Theatre.


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