Likeable midlife crisis drama from Dan Fogelman that gifts a fine role to Al Pacino
There’s a certain delicious quality about seeing Al Pacino play a jaded rocker in Danny Collins. He’s a hip-swinging cliché – pumping out his old hits on the tour circuit, still drinking and doing drugs, and somewhere beneath it all he's profoundly unsatisfied. Collins immediately brings to mind all those ageing musicians who still think they can rock a pair of leather trousers.
Written and directed by debut helmer Dan Fogelman, who penned the fine comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love, Danny Collins is inspired by a true story. Ten years ago English folk singer Steve Tilston was sent a letter from John Lennon, written years earlier but never delivered; in the film, Danny gets exactly that – a missive penned to him decades ago, after the Beatle read an interview with the young Danny, where Lennon advises him to stay true to his tunes as fame comes a-calling.
Years on, it’s clear Danny is as well-known as he is artistically compromised. But when he reads Lennon’s words of comfort, given to him by his manager Frank (Christopher Plummer), it sends him into a tailspin. Re-evaluating his life, he tries to make amends with his estranged son Tom (Bobby Cannavale) and his wife Samantha (Jennifer Garner). There’s romance too, as Danny flirts with Mary (Annette Bening), the no-nonsense manager of the hotel where he stays during his trip to reconcile with his family.
Pacino may not quite have the stage swagger of Jagger et al but what he does do is ease his way into the film’s comic set-pieces. There’s something likeable about this shambolic, self-centred mess who believes money can patch over emotional wounds. Danny Collins won’t have you in stitches but it’s not meant to. A story about soul-searching, it should appeal to folks old enough to remember the 60s, and to those who wish they could have been there.
General release from Fri 29 May.