Monday, 15 June 2015

Film: 'Danny Collins'

From the trailer this looked like it might be fun. Well, for some of it it was but, alas, it was stymied by a heavily sentimental strand at its heart, requiring the ever-interesting Al Pacino to perform a role that he's only very rarely touched on (if ever!) in previous performances and which, here, he looked less than convincing in, namely that of caring father to the family of his estranged and never-before-seen, now middle-aged, antagonistic son with an advanced-pregnant wife, not to mention their insufferably forward six-year old daughter whose annoying presence would have been immeasurably improved by the judicious application of a damn good slap.

I am, however, glad to report that the weighty proceedings are significantly lifted whenever the admirable Annette Bening appears on screen (which is often), as an hotel manager with whom Pacino flirts unashamedly. There's a significant amount of pleasing banter between them. Even when the conversations between these two get to more serious subjects it's still interesting, which is more than can be said for some of the other interchanges.
Pacino himself is a three-times married rock star of yesteryear, where drinks and drugs figured, and continues to cast shadows. He's still performing occasional public concerts singing his 'hits' of old, and he's still managed, forty years on, by Christopher Plummer. I wasn't quite sure how much of Plummer's doddery act was put on as being in the character of the man he was portraying, or was it part of Plummer the man as he's become? Of course I want to think it was the former.

Roughly based on a true story, it tells how, in 1971, John Lennon, whom Danny Collins (Pacino) worshipped, read an interview Collins had given and was impressed enough to write to him c/o the magazine in which it appeared, suggesting that they talk further, only Lennon's letter to have been withheld from the imterviewee's awareness, he now being told of it forty years later, to his dismay. This provides the excuse for nearly all the background music to the film being of Lennon (post-Beatles) songs. Unfortunately they are all only snippets, some very brief, which was a shame.

The cloyingly sentimental aspect I refer to at the start of this post is that there is a serious health issue affecting one of the members of Collins' son's family, and which the Pacino character takes an active part to try to alleviate. This tilted the film's whole centre of gravity to an ill-fitting seriousness, at least one that is at odds to what I was expecting.

This is writer Dan Fogelman's first film as director, which he achieves with fair enough results. Perhaps I should have been more open-minded to there being light and shade in the story. I was hoping for something enjoyably frothy throughout rather than it being so just in patches..........................5.5


  1. Now annette benning is one of my favourite actors.
    I adored her in the underrated The American President

    1. Very much mine too, J.G. She (as well as Pacino himself) make this whole venture worth catching. She doesn't disappoint in the least.

  2. We don't see much of AB these days. I'd like to think it's her choice to be selective in her work rather than Hollywood ageism at work. I think that Pacino could do with being a little more selective these days.

  3. I'm with you there, Craig. I've been captivated by Mrs Beatty's screen presence ever since I first noticed her, which was in 'Valmont' in around 1990. I remember that before I knew her name I actually thought it was Jenny Agutter, another actress of whom we see far too little, at least on the cinema screen, though she does still do a fair bit of TV work. But A.B. seems to raise the quality of any film she appears in, and I've never seen her in a true 'clunker' which this one also is not.

    I get the impression that Pacino is trying to do a De Niro (who's only had limited success) in widening his range of roles, though it's not so easy for A.P. to achieve it convincingly when he carries such a formidable screen career around with him relating to the world of crime - both sides of.