Movie Review: St Vincent

Movie Review: St Vincent

Would you leave your kids with a babysitter who drinks, smokes, hires prostitutes, swears, lies, and gambles? Probably not. But comedy-drama St Vincent is built around the unlikely idea of such an after-school carer.  Matching the cranky persona of long-standing Bill Murray (Ghostbusters, Lost in Translation), St Vincent centres upon the American comedian as crusty loner […]

By Ben McEachenTuesday 23 Dec 2014MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

Would you leave your kids with a babysitter who drinks, smokes, hires prostitutes, swears, lies, and gambles? Probably not. But comedy-drama St Vincent is built around the unlikely idea of such an after-school carer. 

Movie Review: St Vincent 
Matching the cranky persona of long-standing Bill Murray (Ghostbusters, Lost in Translation), St Vincent centres upon the American comedian as crusty loner Vincent. When single mum Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move next door to Vincent, the stage is swiftly set. For one of those movies about an unlikely mentor/young apprentice who, you know, change each other’s lives. Forever. 

Those seeking an alternative at cinemas this Boxing Day, from hobbits and nights at museums, will find it in St Vincent. As suggested by Vincent being a grouchy gambler in need of cash, this is no family film. Swearing, adult concepts and questionable care of children, form the backbone of what occurs when likeable screw-up Vincent takes on Oliver. Given Maggie knows how dodgy Vincent can be, hard to believe she keeps sending Oliver back to him.

But if she didn’t, we wouldn’t get the patchy comedy and adequate drama which trots out. For all its quirks and flickers of insight, St Vincent is disappointingly predictable and emotionally light. The best bit is Lieberher, terrific as sensitive, smart Oliver. His interaction with Murray delivers the bulk of the film’s laughs and heart. Even as you cover your eyes at how Vincent refuses to modify his behaviour – including weekly visits with a Russian ‘lady of the night’ (Naomi Watts). 

Not as explicit or offensive as it could have been, Vincent’s school of life lessons still shocks. Especially when Oliver begins to perceive the virtues of sainthood in Vincent. ‘Saints are people we celebrate for their commitment and dedication to other human beings,’ explains Oliver. Asked to select a real-life ‘saint’ for a school assignment, Oliver inevitably picks Vincent. But why? He’s got an interesting relationship with his sourpuss neighbour. Oliver also knows Vincent’s devoted love for his wife, and experience as a solider. Is all that enough, though, for Oliver to proclaim Vincent is committed and dedicated to others?

Nice to see a movie celebrating people for being selfless. But a major shortcoming of St Vincent is it doesn’t show the extreme babysitter actually fitting Oliver’s description of sainthood. Saints are upheld by some Christian denominations. These are individuals who fit more criteria than Oliver listed, and are regarded as more special than other people. But, in the New Testament, the term ‘saint’ is effectively used to mean ‘Christian’.

The letter to the Ephesians is addressed ‘to the faithful saints in Christ Jesus’ (1:1). These people in the Ephesian church were not called saints, due to being regarded as more special than others. As is still the case, each and every Christian becomes a saint by being ‘in Christ Jesus’ – a shorthand way of describing someone who believes, trusts and follows Jesus. Being a saint doesn’t mean perfection. Being a saint means the Holy Spirit is continually working in any of us, to transform our imperfect, sinful selves. Into people aligned more with the perfect, sinless Jesus.

Hope 103.2 is proudly supported by

Oliver’s definition of sainthood is part of what a Christian life should look like. But commitment and dedication to others flows from the source of Christianity – Jesus. He demonstrated what it means to truly commit and dedicate ourselves to others. He also revealed so much more about what a saintly life is. St Vincent only scratches about at the surface.
 

Rating: M
Distributor: Roadshow

Release Date: December 26