UK Release Date: 29th May 2015
Runtime: 106 minutes
Director: Dan Fogelman
Writer: Dan Fogelman
Starring: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Garner, Christopher Plummer, Melissa Benoist
Synopsis: A washed-up old musician is reinvigorated when he receives a letter from John Lennon, decades too late, and decides to return to his musical roots.
Dan Fogelman has had a wildly inconsistent career as a screenwriter. For every gem like romcom Crazy, Stupid, Love or Disney animation Tangled, there’s a Cars 2 or a Last Vegas to balance them out. Until now, he has resisted the urge to step into the director’s chair, but he finally does so to helm his self-scripted dramedy Danny Collins, which is a real heartfelt treat.
Danny Collins (Al Pacino) is a famous musician with an ageing fanbase. His manager, Frank (Christopher Plummer) discovers a letter, written by John Lennon decades prior. This inspires Collins to right wrongs in his life, including building bridges with estranged son Tom (Bobby Cannavale). He moves into a hotel, striking up a rapport with its manager Mary (Annette Bening).
On the face of it, Danny Collins looks like nothing more than another cynical attempt to cash in on the “grey pound” that has been such a successful part of recent cinema. However, Fogelman’s film is far more interesting than that and forms an interesting musing on the homogenising effect of fame and the struggles of retaining a unique creative voice.
| "I’ve spent my entire life trying to become the man that you aren’t."
Al Pacino does his best work in years in the central role. He plays Danny Collins as a genius who has turned to hedonism in an attempt to numb himself to the effect of churning out music he himself cannot stand. At once charming and pathetic, the character is capable of flipping from sympathetic to intolerable in a matter of moments.
The supporting performances in Danny Collins are also solid, with Jennifer Garner and Annette Bening each working well in scenes with Pacino. The film’s true star, though, is Bobby Cannavale as Collins’ son. His role initially seems one note, but Cannavale brings great depth to the character as his storyline deepens and develops in unexpected directions. Cannavale and Pacino are a heart-breaking double act – two men whose relationship is poisoned forever by their own pride and refusal to let each other in.
Fogelman’s script is a delicate balancing act between comedy and drama that works to create a genuinely rich film. Danny Collins packs more than its fair share of emotionally devastating moments, but balances them out with levity whenever it can, including several instances of rather dark comedy that never feel mean-spirited.
| "I’m broken. There ain’t nothing left to break."
Despite its rather glossy exterior, Danny Collins is a film of raw emotion that deserves not to be judged by its safe, comfy cover. Al Pacino seems to have banished the spectre of recent disasters like Jack & Jill and is finally back to doing what he does best – acting.
Pop or Poop?
Bolstered by a heavyweight central performance from Al Pacino, Danny Collins is a deeply emotional film that emerges as one of the surprise packages of 2015 thus far.
The supporting cast is packed with terrific turns and boasts more emotion than every mainstream Hollywood comedy of this year put together.
Released later in the year, Danny Collins would have been an Oscar contender. It still deserves not to be forgotten in the pantheon of the year’s best.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.