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St Vincent: St Bill in the Backyard

Theodore Melfi’s must-see Christmas movie, St Vincent, features Bill Murray, as Vin, a cynical grumpy midlife boozer, down on his luck, his bank balance, and paying for the services of a Russian hooker, Daka, (Naomi Watts) who’s now up the duff. When Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) moves next door with her twelve year old Oliver, (Jaeden Lieberher), the stage is set for some very unlikely childcare, as Vin does what he does, taking Oliver to the race track to try and change his luck, and the bar. He also offers lessons in self defence, and pays him to mow his dirt patch while he lounges. Meanwhile Maggie is working all hours in a demanding job as a radiologist, and trying to get over her ex’s misdemeanours, and the fact he’s now suing for custody. “There goes my job security”, Vin quips, but under his acerbic front, another truth emerges in his quiet visits to Sunnyside care home, a history Oliver begins to research for a school project, Saints Amongst Us.

Life repeatedly challenges Vin with the cruel “It is what it is”, from his bank manager, the care home director, and in a sudden stroke, as his hidden qualities begin to surface. It’s a feel good tale for a modern day saint, in a role that’s a perfect match for Murray, and his well cast Persian cat Felix. Also featuring a memorable parent meeting only McCarthy could deliver, “my fallopian tubes were recoiling from David’s sperm”, Maggie tells the Catholic priest, in a detailed account of marital misery and infertility. As Vin, Daka, Maggie, Oliver and a new arrival sit down to lunch, it’s certainly a modern day tale of family and community to usher in the festive season.

Jacqueline Palmer, an integrative psychotherapist, is in private practice in North London and runs “A Return to Intimacy” workshops. With an MA in Film from the BFI, she has practiced photography and published poems and short stories on her path to becoming a psychotherapist.