Danny Collins – ★ ★ ★ ★ DVD Review
Shortly before he died, John Lennon wrote a letter of encouragement to Danny Collins after reading an interview with the young musician. Unfortunately, Danny doesn’t receive the letter from the legendary artist for another forty years. Forty years into a successful music career, but thirty years gone since he last wrote a song. After being once compared to Lennon, to receive the letter from his idol shakes Collins’ world to the core. Sure he had money, sure he had fame, but was he any good? What would Lennon have thought of the way his career had unfolded?
Al Pacino plays Danny Collins, the aging rocker who now has regrets about his career, feeling that it would have let down his idol, wondering what sort of person he would have become if he had received his Lennon letter when he should have. His first decision as he tries to turn his life around is to meet Tom (Bobby Cannavale), his grown son and his family (Jennifer Garner) for the first time. But Danny is not perfect, his first attempts to connect with his son involve throwing money at the problem. He arranges for his young granddaughter to get into an exclusive school to help with her hyperactivity, and tries to shower the family with gifts. Tom wants nothing from the man though, or his money. All the while, Danny tries to write a new song, and flirts with Mary, the manager of the New Jersey hotel he’s staying at (Annette Bening). Eventually he breaks through, and writes a song that he’s proud of, a song that makes Mary agree to go to his intimate concert along with his family; but Danny cracks and when the crowd demands his old hits instead of the new material, he gives up and gives in. Broken, he returns to alcohol and drugs to pass the night, sabotaging his relationship with everyone, including his long suffering manager (Christopher Plummer). Can Collins find a way to redeem himself? It’s not only his son he has to impress now, it’s himself as well; and of course John Lennon.
Inspired by the true story of folk singer Steve Tilston, Danny Collins was a very good film, with great emotional depth. Funny at times and at others it immediately pulled at the heart strings, without seeming sappy. Al Pacino was excellent as Collins, channelling Rod Stewart, Neil Diamond, Mick Jagger and every other stereotypical aging rocker to actually give a very subtle performance. He is one of the best actors out there, so it’s not surprising that he could handle this role, even though he’s not really that great a singer. The entire cast had great chemistry, and it really showed on the screen. Garner played well off both Pacino and Cannavale; Bening played remarkably well off Pacino, who himself worked effortlessly with Cannavale; and as always, Christopher Plummer is great.
It wasn’t a super heavy film, but it was a “feel good” piece of entertainment. Capped off by an incredible soundtrack by (naturally) John Lennon, I really enjoyed this one.
Bottom Line: How do you get sold out concert footage for an artist who doesn’t exist? Easy, you crash a Chicago concert. The band Chicago took a break to allow the film company and Pacino film their scenes. Pretty inventive I think.
Posted on 15-09-04, in 4 Star, Movie Reviews and tagged Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Bobby Cannavale, Christopher Plummer, Danny Collins, Jennifer Garner, John Lennon, true story. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.