By Karol Krok
Bill Murray is one of those actors who, quite successfully, spent an entire career being virtually one and the same character. And audiences still love him for it. In St. Vincent, he plays a despicable and cynical war veteran who ends up looking after a little boy living next door, while his mother works long hours. Everyone learns an important lesson at the end. But before that, there’s a lot of cynical and snappy comedy to satisfy more demanding viewers. The newcomer Theodore Melfi did a good job at helming this comedy/drama combo. Not an easy task, by anybody’s standards.
For Theodore Shapiro comedy is a second nature. He’s scored so many of those films that can do it on his sleep by now. But as formulaic as this career bath might be, the scores he wrote are really quite solid – especially the masculine action genre satire Tropic Thunder and ridiculously heraldic Blades of Glory. St. Vincent brings out a little more chamber-sized side of the composer. Which is a perfect match for this story.
‘Long Walk Home’ is a lovely opening to the score soundtrack album. Piano, drum kit and guitars set the tone for the rest of this disc. It’s a snappy and quirky world that Shapiro is presenting in this film. But never devoid of, sometimes deeply buried, affection and kindness. ‘Life of Vin’ paints an apt picture of the Murray’s character – awkward, out of tune, tonally confused. The main theme (heard previously in the first track), comes back in ‘Be Good’.
‘Vin and Zucko’ brings a bit more serious tone to the table – the contemplative distant electric guitar provides Shapiro’s music with a dose of melancholy. Things get energetic and quirky yet again in ‘Standard Operating Procedure’, with eclectic, slightly militaristic, percussion. The rhythmic parts of ‘Nosebreaker’ are almost ominous in their performances.
This get jolly and cosy yet again in ‘Daka’s Ultrasound’ and ‘At the Track’ – the former showcases one of secondary themes that resurface every now and then within the score (it’s final melancholic statement can be heard in ‘To the Moon’). The latter underscores a scene where Vincent brings little Oliver into the adult environment of horse racing, much to the horror of boy’s mother.
‘Broken Glass’ brings back a more melancholic side yet again. ‘Saints Among Us’ warms up the emotions with its heart-warming rendition of main theme. This time, however, the tone is more serious – especially when solo cello comes in. The very opening ‘Stroke’ introduces really droning and bleak elements into the music palette – a much darker thing than we heard previously. The gentle ‘Break Through’ helps the recovery, while ‘Fresh Crab’ brings back the lightness. But, as it turns out, only for a brief moment.
The final section of this score album is very melancholic in nature, suggesting the maturation and learning process – the contemplative piano and acoustic guitar lead the way. The final track is interesting for its thematic application – the new melody is somewhat reminiscent of main theme’s opening phrase. All of those culminating pieces are still really pleasant, if somewhat typical for a drama like this. There’s only one brief moment of happiness to break this downer of a mood – ‘Interview’.
There’s obviously nothing groundbreaking about Theodore Shapiro’s score to St. Vincent. Most of the technique and approaches were already tried and tested in countless previous film scores like this. However, there’s a nice quirky quality to this, relatively brief, Sony Classical album. It won’t linger in your mind for long, to be completely honest. But fans of breezy and undemanding comedy genre should be satisfied.
St. Vincent is out now from Sony Classical (a separate song compilation album is also available)