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St Vincent
  • Composed by Theodore Shapiro
  • Sony Classical / 2014 / 36m

A comedy-drama written and directed by Theodore Melfi, St Vincent stars the great Bill Murray as a grumpy old man who takes the 12-year old boy who’s just moved in next door under his wing and teaches him the ways of the world – and would you believe, the older guy ends up learning a few lessons himself?  Revolutionary.  This is a hard genre of film to write interesting music for – probably the hardest.  The composer’s always likely to be competing with a load of needle-dropped songs which go under the most important parts of the film, the music’s always likely to be charming and inoffensive but rarely required to leave much of an impression.  The very talented Theodore Shapiro has wound up spending a large part of his career doing films like this – whether it’s because he’s good at it and it’s the only thing he’s asked to do, or he likes it and so chooses to do these more than other things, I have no idea.  But the scores of his that have left the biggest impression on me have tended to be the ones from other genres (like the brilliant Heist), or movies where at least the comedy has enough of a twist that he can go all-out with some aspect of it or other (Tropic Thunder, say).

St Vincent doesn’t stay entirely predictable throughout, but it has to be said that it does travel over some very well-trodden ground.  As sure as night follows day, the album opens with a lovely piece that’s like instrumental song form, with a lyrical melody line.  The slight hook – and distinguishing feature – it (and the rest of the score) has is the unorthodox percussion, but this is firmly in the kind of middle-of-the-road Rachel Portman territory you somehow knew it would be.  It’s mostly very light and fluffy – there’s a handful of slightly heavier moments but they tend to pass by fairly quickly.  You’re left with just over half an hour of pleasant music, well-written and attractive but really just a bit boring.  It’s probably the perfect score for the film and Shapiro does this sort of thing as well as anyone, but it would be great to hear him have the chance to show off his undoubted talent in a film that would allow him a bit of a larger canvas to paint on.  A few really nice easy-listening pop instrumentals here, any track in isolation is perfectly fine; the album as a whole is unlikely to cause much excitement.

Rating: ** 1/2 | |

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  1. muffle (Reply) on Thursday 30 October, 2014 at 16:39

    I want to see this just because Bill Murray is in it. So few actors evoke such a broad range of feeling in me. He can make me double over with laughter, cringe with embarrassment while I’m doubling over with laughter, make me blush and flush as he tosses a wicked look from the corner of his deliberate eye, and finally, make me weep. He can do all that to me. He is Bill Murray. 🙂