HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: St. Vincent
HTS Overall Score:73
Bill Murray is a bit of an odd bird. He was known for his slapstick comedies back in the 80s, but later on in life developed a taste for making odd, quirky dramedies that were very indie in nature. He seemed to gravitate towards Wes Anderson films and the like, making another name for himself as the king of indie comedies. St. Vincent takes a line from the indie circuit and keeps itself bleak and droll, but some of Bill Murray’s trademark comedy shines through, even though it may be nicely veneered as black comedy. I ended up enjoying “St. Vincent” much more than I expected, especially considering Melissa McCarthy’s involvement in the movie. It’s not a perfect movie, but certainly an entertaining movie which showcases some fantastic performances.
“St. Vincent” is first and foremost a dramedy. It may have been billed as a comedy, and there certainly is a lot of humor in the movie, but the humor is very wry and coasts along beside a heavy dose of familial drama. Vincent (Bill Murray) is a bawdy, crude, rude, hedonistic, slimy old man who’s living out his days in a rundown house in the Bronx. He gambles, he employs a lady of the night named Daka (played by Naomi Watts), and he’s a compulsive liar if it suits him. His life changes when his new neighbor’s delivery moving company backs up into his tree, drops a branch on his car and wrecks his fence in the process. Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) is a worn out single mother who’s just moving in after going through a rough divorce with her cheating husband. Her son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) is all she has left and she’s doing all she can to do good by him. After getting his keys and wallet stolen by bullies at school, Oliver ends up being babysat by the most unlikely of people, Vincent.
The babysitting arrangement is only temporary, but somehow turns out permanent as the grumpy old man takes care of the highly intelligent and impressionable young man. These babysitting days consist of going to the tracks and betting on horses, going to the bar and drinking a coke while Vincent gets a bit toasty, and generally hanging out with the wrong people, including Daka, Vincent’s “lady friend” who happens to work in the oldest known profession. Oliver and Vincent form a weird friendship, as neither has much in common with each other, and Vincent is certainly not the person that you would want hanging out with your kid. Still, the two seem to find a connection, as Vincent is able to teach Oliver about life, including things that you should do, and plenty of things that you really shouldn’t do.
I know what you’re thinking. This is one of those tales where the grumpy old man with no redeeming qualities falls in with a young boy and reveals that he has a heart of gold underneath. There is a few elements like that to the story, but in this case, it’s not reality. Vincent and Oliver aren’t the perfect match, both are lonely and in need. Oliver gets picked on by local bullies, pummeled by some local punks and can barely stand up for himself. He has no one to teach him how to act like a man and can only stumble around in the dark. Vincent is a mess, with no possible future, but as with all people who age alone, he is as lonely as they come. Even if he won’t admit it. Oliver and Vincent aren’t the best friends you see in a picture book, but they’re friends nonetheless, giving each other the companionship and love that is needed among humans, even if it’s not conventional.
The movie has some flaws, specifically dealing with the tying of all the knots at the end. The turning of Vincent into “St. Vincent” hiccups a little as you struggle to reconcile some of the inconsistencies in his character earlier in the movie. It works, it really does, but there’s a few rough spots in the narrative that make you hesitate on the believability factor. What really made the movie good was the performances of Bill, Naomi, Melissa and Jaeden. Bill plays his normal grumpy self, and it works really well. I don’t point him out as a fantastic performance because he’s just doing what he’s really good at. Jaeden was quite believable as the skinny little Oliver and made the relationship complete as the two formed the perfect foil. Melissa and Naomi, on the other hand were down right amazing. Naomi Watts was so inter her role as Daka that it took me a minute of looking at credits to realize that it was really her. It was one of those performances where you didn’t see the actress at ALL and all you could see was the character. Her character isn’t as prolific or as influential as Jaeden’s was, but still an incredible performance. Melissa really irritated me. Not because she was awful, not in the least, but because she was so good that you can’t help but bang your head against the wall and scream “why aren’t you using this talent in your other movies”! The woman really does have range, as proven here by playing the incredibly vulnerable and sweet mother role, but she wastes her talent on all of these horrible comedies that get yucks out of “look at the fatty” jokes. This is one of those performances by her that really show the woman can act, and act well by all accounts.
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=38458[/img]“St Vincent” comes to Blu-ray with a very solid 1.85:1 AVC encoded presentation that gives a very pleasing experience. Colors are very warm and are very well saturated, giving the movie a rather ruddy and rich look to itself. Detail is strong with plenty of fine and wide detail present, from the clothing, to the aging face of Bill Murray himself. Black level are impressive and never really disappoint, but there is some inherent softness to the image that gives the film a slightly smooth look. The movie is very sharp, with precision clarity for a majority of the film, but that softness sometimes takes the edge off that clarity, especially in dimly lit indoor scenes. The disc itself seemed to be free of banding, macroblocking and the like, and with the limited extras gives a nice and healthy bitrate to breathe in that department. A good looking transfer that does its job well.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=38466[/img]Much like the video score, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless track is quite pleasing to the ears and does what required of it with gusto. The track is very much a dramedy track, loaded heavily in the front three speakers with a majority of the focus on the dialog. Said dialog is well replicated, with excellently balanced vocals blending in with the limited score and the rest of the effects. The surrounds, while not always constant, do add in some nice background noise and the LFE channel kicks up in quite a few places. The race track scenes roar with power as the horses careen down the track and the sounds of Vincent’s aging car are propped up by nicely detailed little sounds from under the creaky hood. Ambient noises show some good directionality, but most of the track really does focus on the dialog, so the main three speakers get the brunt of the action.
• Deleted Scenes
• Bill Murray IS St. Vincent: The Patron St. of Comedy
St. Vincent is a flawed dramedy that really is saved by some excellent performances. Some of the twists and turns in the storyline are a bit telegraphed, but don’t deter you from watching, as the characters are what makes the movie rather good. I enjoyed the film much more than I was expecting, especially considering the actor’s recent works, but it turned out to be something that surprised me. The disc itself looks very solid, with high marks for audio and video, with the only weak point being the anemic extras. I would definitely recommend a good rental or a watch if you can. Recommended.
Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts
Directed by: Theodore Melfi
Written by: Theodore Melfi
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 17th 2015
Buy St. Vincent On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Good Rental
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