Friday, 28 November 2014

REVIEW - ST. VINCENT (THEODORE MELFI)


There's a lot to be said for a movie that makes you laugh, and a lot of laughter goes a long way in Theodore Melfi's amiable comedy St. Vincent. Though far from the year's most ambitious film, or even its most ambitious comedy, St. Vincent displays Melfi's impeccable knack for comic timing, as well as his excellent way with dialogue, proving that comedies can be as technically demanding to produce as any other genre of film. It's debatable whether or not anything more stylistically elaborate, even anything slightly more so, could be of benefit here, or would it only intrude on the gentle simplicity in which the humour finds so fertile a ground. That simplicity makes St. Vincent difficult to recommend beyond the quality of the jokes, and who could argue at least against a more competent, less derivative score than Theodore Shapiro's listless effort. That's where a touch more artistry, or at least a touch more sensitivity, wouldn't go amiss. Nevertheless, what this film thrives off of is that aforementioned (and, by now, much mentioned) sense of humour, generously employed, and with such verve too. Melfi's style is old-fashioned, in that it is deliberate, largely verbal character comedy. It doesn't rely on self-aware snark or silly slapstick, but evokes bygone styles of comedy that set the precedents on which those modern styles were built, and which they can never surpass. Whether in roles designed as brash comedic counterpoints (Naomi Watts) or staid, dramatic ones (Melissa McCarthy), the cast is charming and effective, particularly Bill Murray in the lead.