Monday, 5 October 2015

Danny Collins

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Out on DVD from Monday 5th October from Entertainment One, Danny Collins stars Al Pacino as the eponymous Danny, an ageing rock star who had higher aspirations when younger as the next big voice of popular culture like his idol John Lennon, before a smash global hit renders him necessary to give into those aspirations and become a joke in his senior years much like Tom Jones, Rod Stewart and Neil Diamond - still touring but with nothing original to perform.

We first encounter Danny on the evening of another triumphant gig in Los Angeles, the night before his birthday. At the same birthday, his manager Frank (Christopher Plummer) gives him a gift, a handwritten letter from John Lennon to Danny, that he never got delivered to him.  This sets off something inside Danny prompting him to leave his young fiancée at his huge LA mansion and leave for New Jersey to work on music and attempt to reconnect with his illegitimate son, Tom (Bobby Cannavale) and his wife Samantha (Jennifer Garner)

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Danny pops up at the Hilton Hotel where his illustrious name and recognisable face get him attention from the valet and reception staff who all love his music, mostly because they grew up with their parents playing it. Collins is charming and beguiling to the hotel manager Mary (Annette Bening), and a nice back and forth between the two commences ending in a wonderfully handled drunk scene in the hotel bar where warmth blazes off the screen.

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Pacino returns to form as Danny Collins
The writer/director Dan Fogelman has form with this elderly match making having written Last Vegas, the best bits being when Michael Douglas and Mary Steenburgen were flirting in a lounge bar.  Fogelman has a good ear as to how people flirting talk to each other over drinks or just willing to say what they want to at an advanced age because life is too short.

The scenes involving Danny and Tom, are handled delicately and does not force the issue when issues of health are brought up, but you feel the resentment from Tom towards Danny and the guilt inside of Danny for having abandoned Tom's mother and not supporting him through his formative years; credit here to the often under-valued Cannavale (The Station Agent) who is one of those faces you may have seen before in other films but here more than holds his own opposite the mighty Pacino, who is good to see does not overegg his portrayal of the washed up star and instead plays him for laughs rather than being laughed at.

His role as Danny Collins completes an ageing trilogy for Pacino who also starred in the well received Manglehorn and The Humbling; it has shown a return to form for Pacino who is settling into the twilight of his career by selecting roles that put his age front and centre but more importantly shows his range as one of cinema's greatest actors.

In general, Danny Collins is a delightful film - the sort of well meaning positive film they do not make enough of nowadays full of good intentions and good humour supported by some fine ensemble acting.  The film does not force your emotions and does not demand your attention, but should you watch it you will be relieved and thankful for the time spent with these characters on their journey.

Danny Collins is out on DVD from Entertainment One on Monday 5th October

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