sat 15/06/2024

DVD: Danny Collins | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Danny Collins

DVD: Danny Collins

Pacino triumphs, despite questionable attempts to channel Neil Diamond

Too old to rock'n'roll? Yes, quite possibly. Al Pacino as Danny Collins

Though packaged as a tale of an ageing rock star, Danny Collins is really an autumnal comedy-drama about regret, redemption and trying to seize life's second chances. As the title character, a cheesy AOR veteran pitched somewhere between Neil Diamond and Neil Sedaka, Al Pacino demonstrates why he and rock'n'roll have never been intimately linked – he can't sing, he can't dance, and he hasn't a clue what to do with a baying live audience.

Nonetheless this is Pacino at his warmest and most soulful, and, abetted by such wily old veterans as Christopher Plummer (as his manager Frank Grubman) and Annette Bening (bringing mischievous wit to prim hotel manageress Mary Sinclair), he manages to hoist director Dan Fogelman's screenplay higher than it deserves.The yarn derives extra horsepower from its improbable basis in fact (it's "kind of based on a true story a little bit", as an opening caption puts it). Fogelman has borrowed the story of English folk singer Steve Tilston, to whom John Lennon wrote a letter of encouragement in 1971 but which Tilston somehow didn't receive until 2005. Danny Collins, starting out as a singer-songwriter with Dylanesque potential, likewise fails to get the message from Lennon (who invited him to call for a chat), and ends up as the kind of artist he never wanted to be. When manager Grubman acquires the letter from a collector and gives it to Collins as a birthday present, it sets him off on a quest to right the things that went wrong, which include rediscovering his unknown son Tom (Bobby Cannavale) and his wife Samantha (Jennifer Garner) and trying to reignite his long-lost songwriting fire. Pacino makes you root for him, not least because you sense that the part took him on a tour of his own back pages.

This DVD release coincides with what would have been Lennon's 75th birthday on 9 October, and the batch of original Lennon recordings (including "Imagine", "Instant Karma" and "Cold Turkey") that Fogelman amazingly managed to get cleared for the soundtrack add a sprinkling of legendariness. For extras, you get a "Behind the Scenes" short (soundbites from the cast, basically), and a droll sequence of mocked-up "Danny Collins" album sleeves featuring a young and moody Al.

Pacino makes you root for him, not least because you sense that the part took him on a tour of his own back pages


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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