ST VINCENT – Review by Susan Granger

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stvincentposterart160Bill Murray is sneaks into your heart as Vincent, a crusty curmudgeon who lives with his Persian cat Felix in a run-down house in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. When Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), a newly separated mother, moves in next door, the moving van knocks down a tree branch that crashes into his ancient Chrysler convertible – and he’s furious. As it turns out, she’s a harried nurse/technician who works long hours at the hospital, so her politely precocious 12 year-old son, Oliver (Jason Lieberher), winds up spending his after-school hours with unkempt, foul-mouthed Vincent, who demands to be paid as his bracingly unorthodox baby-sitter. Read on…

Vincent’s weekly routine revolves around sessions with Daka (Naomi Watts), a pregnant Russian stripper/prostitute who charges by-the-hour, and his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife Sandy (Donna Mitchell), whom he dutifully visits at the swanky nursing home he can no longer afford. When he’s not with either of them, he’s drinking at a local bar or betting on the races at Belmont Park, where he artfully dodges the bookie (Terence Howard) to whom he owes a bundle. Wherever world-weary Vincent goes, Oliver tags along, learning life lessons along the way – which he thoughtfully integrates into a pronouncement by his Catholic school teacher, Brother Geraghty (Chris O’Dowd), that there are potential saints among us, if only we look hard enough.

Adroitly avoiding being too schmaltzy, writer/director Theodore Melfi makes his feature film debut with this memorable star-vehicle for 64 year-old Bill Murray, whose command of physical comedy is nothing less than masterful. Murray absolutely nails this cantankerous, misanthropic slob and – like his performances in “Rushmore,” “Meatballs” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” – his playfulness shines when he’s paired with a youngster. Abandoning her usual loudmouth shtick, Melissa McCarthy reveals surprising maternal vulnerability. Jason Lieberher’s serious soulfulness is endearing. Even Naomi Watts turns what could be a caricature into a sympathetic character.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “St. Vincent” is a slyly subversive 7. And Murray’s already generating Oscar buzz.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.