Vincent (Bill Murray) is a deadbeat, a drunk, a gambler and a curmudgeon who lives in a shabby little house in Brooklyn. His life changes when his new neighbors move in: Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), a working mom in the middle of a divorce, and her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher). When Oliver goes to his new school on the first day, he is bullied and his clothes, keys and phone are stolen from him out of this gym locker. When he can’t get into his house at home, and his mom has to work late, he asks his neighbor Vincent for help.
Reminiscent of the 2009 movie Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood, Vincent and Oliver start becoming unlikely friends. Vincent teaches the boy how to stand up for himself and fight, which changes the bully-situation at school very quickly. Oliver learns what it’s like to live in the shadier sides of the city, in bars, at the race track and in strip joints. The boy who is going to Catholic school and his mom, who tries really hard to do the right thing, both for her son, and for her new life on her own, are getting glimpses of the life of the old man next door. He is penniless, or worse, the owes money to bad guys at the race track, he is behind on his payments to the care home of his ill wife, and he can’t afford to pay for the pre-natal care for his pregnant Russian stripper girlfriend Daka (Naomi Watts).
With every turn of events, things get worse for Vincent and he seems to drag the boy into trouble with him. When nobody has any respect left for the old man, the boy is tasked to write an essay about a saint in his life.
St. Vincent is a star performance by Bill Murray. It’s like he is just playing himself. It seems to come so easy. It’s also refreshing to see Melissa McCarthy not as some goofball or gross comedy queen, but as a working mother who really takes her life and her responsibilities seriously. Bill Murray carries the movie and makes it a joy to watch, from beginning to end – and surprisingly, all the way through the credits. Nobody got up until the Dylan song Shelter from the Storm was all done. When the lights came on I quickly wiped a tears off my cheeks that had lingered there through the last ten minutes of the film.
Rating: *** (out of 4)