This is Melfi's first feature film, and it's evidence of a fine directorial talent: it's beautifully shot, sharply written, and each of his actors, not just his lead, gives excellent performances.
The story centres on a single mother, Maggie, played by Melissa McCarthy, who moves in next door to a crotchety and difficult old man, St Vincent de Van Nuys (Murray). In need of money, St Vincent offers to take care of Maggie's child after school, and although she initially baulks at the suggestion, St Vincent gradually reveals himself to be, deep down, an honest and scrupulously moral man, and he becomes something of a mentor to the child. It's heartwarming stuff, but, in Melfi's hands, it's never mawkish. The acerbic humour of the script cuts through in moments of sentimentality, and the overall tone of the film is a fine balance of emotional seriousness and dry wit. It's not a particularly edgy film, but it's a cut above the run-of-the-mill schmaltz.
Aside from Murray, Naomi Watts, back on form after Diana, does an excellent turn in the perhaps unlikely role of a down at heel Russian sex-worker. Some critics have pointed out that Melissa McCarthy, the glorious comic actress of Bridesmaids fame, was under-used in the slightly earnest role of Maggie, but she does well to portray the single mother with a touching mix of boldness and insecurity.
Bill Murray is, of course, utterly made for the cantankerous yet saintly character of St Vincent, and his performance is a tour-de-force of nihilistic comedy and uplifting drama. But it should be noted that St Vincent is an assured début for Melfi, and surely marks the start of a long and successful career.
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
05 Dec 14 – 05 Feb 15, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here for more information|