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Film Review: Danny Collins

Updated on March 27, 2017

The Gist of It

The inspiration for the film or story comes from a single true source - or occurrence. And that is where it ends. As far as I can see at least. The connection between truth and fiction lies only in the fact that a musician - with a different name to the films title - received a letter from John Lennon after doing an interview with a magazine that Lennon had read/heard/seen. However, the letter was never physically received by Collins as the magazine's interviewer thought he would make a little money off the letter and never let Danny Collins know that the letter had come. Lennon had sent the letter to the interviewing magazine and not Collins himself for some reason. So, the interviewer sold it to a John Lennon collector after the musician had been fatally shot and price for such things went up.

The film features Al Pacino as Danny Collins who, as always, gives a good performance. The film opens with Collins snorting, drinking.. and then putting on a girdle.

He then walks solemnly along quiet corridors and towards a stage.

Suddenly, Collins perks up and starts to sing a very upbeat song to a large crowd of adoring fans as he swaggers out onto the stage. The camera stays for a few moments, and then cuts back to Collins, slumped in a chair with a whiskey in his hand - surrounded by people who are quite happy to enjoy the scene and the spoils of Collins, but not one is interested in talking to him.

Collins manager Frank turns up. It is clear from the start that Frank is pretty much Collins' only friend. Sure at first, you hang back on that as, well, he is also his manager and endless tales of managers taking advantage of their client is legendary. This proves not to be the case. Frank is played by Christopher Plummer.

Frank politely tells the people hanging around to leave - so he and Collins can have a relaxed chat most likely. They chit chat and the banter is funny and this is where you pick up that the film will be a comedy, or at least have a little bit of comedy in it. Frank lets it slip that Danny's wife if throwing him a surprise Birthday party.

Collins drives home in a nice car. The security guard to his home seems to want to talk to a tired Collins who is too nice to tell him where to go. Collins then drives up to his house and it truly looks like something Scarface would be jealous of.

Collins enters his home, declares he is back. No answer. He makes his way towards the stairs.. then turns around.. to leave? No, to take the lift.

His wife - played by Katarina Čas & 30/40 years younger than him - is in the shower. Collins tries to talk to he but she cannot hear him so she leave the shower, naked. She was clearly just about to shave herself and has shaving cream all around her crutch.

A little later Collins quite happily lets it slip that he know about the party... Queue Party scene

There is declarations of wealth and affluence and all the parasites that are drawn to such things.

A scene just like the start in Danny's dressing room is seen again. Frank and Danny, alone in the garden and chatting away as they look over at Danny's passed out wife. Frank jokes about what he can see - stuff he shouldn't. It is clear that she doesn't really mean much to Danny, but not in a nasty or hateful way.

This is when Frank gives Danny him his birthday gift. The very letter from John Lennon that was written some 30/40 years ago. Danny did not know it existed until now and it sets a lot of changes into action.

After the letter Collins:

- Lets his wife know she is having an affair and that he knows the security guard talks to him so that she has time to get whoever out of the house.

- Cancels a tour where he is just cashing in on older fans..

- Moves in a hotel and has a piano moved in with him and starts to write a new song.

- Tries to work his charm on the manager (Annette Bening) of the hotel and gets knocked back quite a few times.

- Sets out to get to know his son and his family - played by Bobby Cannavale & Jennifer Garner

During all this we see Danny struggling to find sobriety and his own personality. Struggling to find his voice in the face of pressures coming from many different angles and from all different people.

The main two main struggles are having the confidence to play the new material he has written and to get to know a son he has never met and who hates him with a vengeance.

The "tag" for the film is, "There are some things that money cannot buy.." However, a cynic could definitely throw in after seeing the film that.. "..Yeah, but it sure as hell help a lot!!"

The only music featured in this film is by John Lennon which strangely annoyed me a little. I understand why but it was quite boring to only have one artist as it took depth away from the film and the music. Like I said, I understand why.

Some times it can be a little counter productive knowing that a lot of what was happening would not be possible without money.. and the film was drawing on the negative effect money can have on creativity.. Still..

I would give this film: 6.5 out of 10

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    • profile image

      Pat Mills 

      3 years ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      Pacino certainly was fun here, and the rest of the cast was good, too.

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