Recently, I turned on the “Charlie Rose” show and lo and behold there was “Danny Collins”; I had seen the film starring Al Pacino at a screening a week earlier; moderately entertaining, loosely based on Steve Tilston, a British folk singer who received a letter from iconic John Lennon, almost forty years after it was written. Pacino had not doffed, shed the strapping’s of the role: manicured hair, earring stud, effete scarf draped over sloping shoulders; illogically, another reason for me not to care for “Danny Collins”.
Danny, a coke-sniffing, booze-guzzling singer; still slathering demographically varied audiences with his repetitious, redundant, archival melodies, has an epiphany as he stares at his lined visage, corseted midriff; his birthday dawns and drowns in debauchery; his twenty-five-year-old fiancé is appropriately caught with a legitimate generational accomplice; Danny absconds to New Jersey where he connects with his son (Bobby Cannavale in a limited, limiting role), daughter-in-law (passable depiction by Jennifer Garner), granddaughter (enchanting, delicious Giselle Eisenberg). The film precipitously plunges into muddled melodrama, salvaged solely by the performance of Annette Bening.
Bening, innately skilled, imbues her roles with profound, mesmerizing integrity; as “Mary” the manager of the New Jersey hotel, housing Danny Collins, she is levity, light and glee; unfazed by Danny’s renown, she waltzes to her own rhythm, a lovely “reality alert” paired with Danny’s drama and histrionics. Riveting, Mary ignites, unshackles a deep wellspring of happiness in Danny and the viewer; unfortunately too fleeting.
At its core “Danny Collins” is about reinvention, transformation; questioning, would his life have been lived differently if he had received the letter in a timely fashion? Methinks NO!
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!