What it's about:
This comedy drama which is based upon a true story, centres on title character Danny Collins (Al Pacino), an ageing, hard-living rocker who is spurred into a late-life change of focus and an attempt to reconnect with his long, lost son when he suddenly receives a letter that had lain undelivered for 40-years from none other than late Beatle, John Lennon.
What we thought:
It’s the 70s and a young singer-songwriter is doing his first interview. The interviewer puffs on his cigarette as he quizzes the songwriter about what inspires him. In the background his music plays, stripped down, it’s beautiful. It’s all about the music for him.
Years later he’s an ageing rock star who jacks himself up with cocaine and whiskey before he heads out onto to the stage.
He croons out his one hit to an ageing audience and it sounds nothing like the song that played in the dingy smoke filled office years ago.
You can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that it seems like that young singer-songwriter never lived up to his true potential.
And so the scene is set for a story about a man in search of redemption and to add meaning to his life in his later years.
Al Pacino plays Danny Collins, an ageing rocker who’s lived that typical rock star lifestyle of drugs, drinks and women. He lives a life of luxury and is engaged to a woman half his age.
On his birthday his manager and best friend Frank (Christopher Plummer) hands him a letter that John Lennon wrote to him in 1971 warning him about the dangers of fame and invites him to hang out with him.
Seizing this as a sign he puts an end to his tour and sets out to right the mistakes he has made.
He leaves his luxury home and sets up camp in a New Jersey hotel near to the house of his estranged adult son Tom (Bobby Cannavale). His son wants nothing to do with him and orders Danny to stay away from his pregnant wife (Jennifer Garner) and his hyperactive daughter (Giselle Eisenberg).
Danny develops a rapport with the hotel manager Mary (Annette Bening) who acts as his conscience. They have a flirtation and for the first time Danny actually has to put in some work to win this woman over.
This common take of redemption could have bordered on cheesiness and too much sentimentality but the story is told with so much realness. It’s hard not to fall in-like with the characters.
The smart funny script is actually based on a real life story of a musician who did get a fan letter from John Lennon 40 years later.
Al Pacino is simply amazing in his portrayal and his singing isn’t too bad either. The back and forth banter between him and Annette Bening is a joy to watch. And while Bening’s character is low key there is nothing low key about her performance.
Bobby Cannavale and Jennifer Garner turn out fine performances and Giselle Eisenberg is such a cutie. She brings on most of laughs.
If you’re in the mood for a good drama Danny Collins will not disappoint. It’s a heart warming story without the melodrama.
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