Danny Collins (2015) Directed by Dan Fogelman. With Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Christopher Plummer and Bobby Cannavale.
Unlike so many of its ilk, writer-director Dan Fogelman’s Danny Collins admits to being ‘kind of a true story’. The vital bit that is true, concerns a letter written to an aspiring young folk singer in the 1970’s – a letter that wasn’t delivered, that is until much later in life. That letter was from none other than John Lennon.
Al Pacino is Danny Collins, an ageing rock star on an endless lap of honour. With a loyal audience of seventy-somethings in tow, he realises his world has become a bit of a joke – one in which he’s the unfunny punchline. Artistically, he’s trapped in a bubble of public demand for his sing-along material, which he churns out, faux-enthusiastically night after night. It doesn’t help that he has a twenty-something girlfriend, whose interest in him doesn’t extend much further than the size of his bank account. Add drug and alcohol problems to the mix, and things aren’t so shiny.
In the aftermath of a heavy party at his mansion, he and his lifelong manager (Plummer) sit beside the pool and make a few honest assessments. It’s not long before Collins decides to check in on his past.
Pacino is good value in the title role, playing the different sides of his character with a great degree of charm. This is a man with two identities; a real one that’s been buried by the other one that has been blinded by the hype for too many years. Pacino slips into the role of the clichéd old rocker with ease – we get the sense he knows this world very well. It helps that he’s supported a fine cast – all of whom, manage to be endearing and enjoyable.
The film is written and directed with great affection by Fogelman, which floods through Pacino’s central performance, seeping into the each character he encounters. It’s message; ‘it’s never too late to do a good thing‘, might be more front-loaded than the cool indie kids would like, but this is a film that’s partially making a point about escaping the trappings of being pidgeon-holed. 3.5/5