July 19th, 2019

St Vincent ***1/2

I do not understand why some people prefer to live alone. I spent nine joyless months living by myself in a studio apartment right after college and decided that I will never live that way again.

When you live with other people, you come home from work to a surprise every night. It could be guests, fun, tv watching together, or just a smiling face to greet you. When you live alone, you come home to the same boring loneliness every night.

People who live alone must find bill-paying less horrible than I do. To me, paying the cable, the water, the electric, and – gasp – the property tax bill all by myself sounds like a nightmare. The last time I paid a utility bill, I’m proud to say, there wasn’t even a pay online option. I suppose paying online makes it an easier process, but I would just as soon never find out.

Always living with other people – sometimes women, sometimes strangers I met online – has made me a more polite, flexible, open-minded, laid-back person. If I had lived by myself the whole time, I’d probably be less sociable and more set in my ways. I might even have become a sociopathic old grump like Bill Murray in “St. Vincent.”

Vincent (Murray) never chose to be alone. He now lives by himself in a filthy old house in Brooklyn because his wife of forty years has dementia and had to be moved to a specialty care facility.

Vincent is dealing with his boredom and anger in understandable but self-destructive ways. He drinks constantly, he gambles beyond his means, he falls in love with a Russian prostitute (Naomi Watts) and feels guilty about it, and he is a jerk to everyone he meets.

Life gives Vincent one more chance at happiness and normalcy when he is asked to babysit the little boy next door (Oliver) while his single mother works late at the hospital.

[Spoilers Ahead] This isn’t a Christmas Carol-esque story where Vincent starts off hating kids but slowly gets his heart melted. Oliver is a smart, well-mannered, lovable boy and Vincent enjoys spending time with him from the start.

There is nothing surprising about “St. Vincent.” But it’s a joy to watch because Bill Murray is still the best actor in Hollywood. It was an absolute pleasure to watch Vincent take Oliver to the bar, share a winning afternoon at the horse track, and teach the kid how to fight.

Bill Murray is the only actor who can personally transform a mediocre movie into an excellent film with his very presence. That’s pretty much what happens in “St. Vincent.”

The film concludes with once lonely Vincent sitting down to a happy dinner with a table full of new friends. If you are reading this article alone in an over-priced apartment, consider the possiblity that there is another way to live. The same happy ending is just a click away on the “rooms for rent” section of Roomster or Craigslist.

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