A critic wrote not too long ago that Bill Murray needs to drop his 800-number and get an agent so he can snag that Oscar-winning role he so deserves. I think that review alone should’ve prepared the Academy to honor his next performance- it only seems fair.
* Serious Man Voice: “Oh, reeeally? You think so? Let’s bestow upon Bill Murray the Greatest Gift in the World! Because we can!”
Really, though. In St. Vincent, Murray walks the fine line between knowing a character and being a character. He devotedly straddles dark humor and self-aware emotionality, in for the long-haul with this awful / wonderful Vincent man at his heels. When I wasn’t laughing, I was feeling connected to the various worlds Vincent enters into, channels to his past, which unravels just enough and to just the right people: the kid who believes in him (Oliver, Jaeden Lieberher’s breakout role!) and the woman who reluctantly cares for him (Daka, played delightfully by the brilliant Naomi Watts).
Theodore Melfi wrote an directed this touching story about a guy who is truly down on every ounce of luck he ever had. When a new family, mother (Melissa McCarthy- hilarious) and son move in next door, protagonist Vincent makes no direct effort to ever seem like a better person than he is. He literally remains a strange, prickly, careless, and scheming creep throughout- the key to his redemption is not changing or trying to change who he is. This would be refreshing no matter who the subject was, but in the case of such a basically repulsive character, it’s really fascinating to end up on his side.
You see, he gains acceptance because of why he does things and who he does them for, now how he does them. While at first it seems like he doesn’t deserve what little he has- a pristine white Persian cat, plenty of leisure time, balls- it turns out that he actually just prioritizes differently than most people. Hygiene- eh. Politeness? Why!? He quietly does whatever it takes to keep his ailing wife in the best care possible. He feeds his cat better food than what he eats himself. He isn’t nice, but he is good, and the story is about how strangers come to appreciate and care for this good man.
Note of advice: Just don’t let St. Vincent babysit.