Starring: Al Pacino, Annette Benning, Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale, Christopher Plummer, Gisele Eisenberg
Director: Dan Fogelman
Genre: Drama, comedy
Running time: 106 minutes
Now showing at Century Cinemax, Acacia Mall, Kisementi and Cinema Magic, Metroplex Mall, Naalya
Just before this review was written, there was a discussion on social media where someone nostalgically remarked that movies no longer have noteworthy leading actors like Julia Roberts and Al Pacino. The person made the remark in reference to the actors of old to dominate the screen so much that their character became the movie.
With Danny Collins, it is easy to see what the person meant. Al Pacino takes on the titular role so much, he is almost unrecognisable. He is a rockstar who was a big hit in the 1970s, and is still very much in the game despite his age, more for the lifestyle than career growth.
Just before he goes on what promises to be a profitable tour, his manager Frank –played by a Christopher Plummer who is a far cry from the distinguished captain Von Trapp of The Sound of Music— unearths a letter which changes everything.
The 40-year-letter was written to Collins by John Lennon, who was a big fan, advising him to write deep music –music that has meaning. This last bit actually happened to Steve Tilston, whose life loosely inspires the movie.
The letter is an epiphany of sorts for Collins who decides to change his life. He moves to a small town, checks into a hotel and embarks on bringing more meaning to his life.
This includes reconnecting with the son he never knew. His son Tom (Cannavale), who has a daughter (Eisenberg) and an expectant wife (Garner), wants nothing to do with him, and there are some heavy things he is dealing with.
On the surface, it seems like a pretty solid script. However, there are parts where Fogelman, who was also the screenwriter, plays it too safe. Tom’s issues for example were an easy route since they create obvious drama. At the risk of adding spoilers, I’ll leave it at that. You’ll understand what I mean when you watch the movie.
There is a tendency to be more forgiving of director’s shortcoming when it is the first movie they are directing and Fogelman is not exempt. So I’ll look at the movies strongest point, which is its cast. Pacino delivers everything required of him. He might be a rockstar on the road to rehabilitation but he still maintains parts of his old life that just make him endearing. His unabashed flirting with the hotel manager (Bening) is one example.