09th Oct2015

‘Danny Collins’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale, Christopher Plummer, Katarina Cas, Giselle Eisenberg, Melissa Benoist, Josh Peck, Brian Smith, Scott Lawrence | Written and Directed by Dan Fogelman


It is fair to say that Al Pacino has made some questionable decisions as to what movies he has starred in recently. With Danny Collins though he reminds us just how charming he can be, in a movie about reclaiming lost life…. Inspired by a true story, Al Pacino plays Danny Collins an aging 1970s rocker who keeps himself going through the use of coke and alcohol. When his manager and best friend Frank (Christopher Plummer) uncovers a 40-year-old undelivered letter to Danny from John Lennon, it inspires Danny to look back on his life and to his roots. In visiting his home town though and seeking out his family, he may not like what he finds.

There is no doubt that Danny Collins as a character comes across as an ass, but he is a kind-hearted one. When he returns to his roots he meets Mary Sinclair (Annette Bening) a hotel manager who inspires him to be a better person. The scars of the past though are hard to heal, as his son Tommy (Bobby Cannavale) soon makes him realise.

It is the relationship between Tommy and Anny, as well as his daughter Hope (Giselle Eisenberg) that brings out the real Danny, played by Pacino in a way that makes the audience fall in love with the character. The problem is of course that when he fails, he fails hard, especially with the people watching the movie. Saying that this is a problem really doesn’t damage the movie though, it strengthens it. Director and Writer Dan Fogelman weaves a tale that makes us want Danny to finally be redeemed and he makes the movie all about the characters.

Whether it is Danny who charms us, the desk clerk Jamie (Melissa Benoist) who is adorable, or Hope who steals every scene she is in, the audience’s defences are brought down by the power of the performances put on display. The casting in the movie is truly inspired. Most impressive is the casting of Bobby Cannavale who is an intense actor, but is good at using that intensity in his emotions. He is able to play an intimidating character at times, but still have that teddy bear like cuddliness to him that makes him endearing. This means the character can come across as angry, especially towards his father, but Cannavale is able to show that softness slowly creeping in.

Danny Collins is a movie about frailty of character. With a strong story, good direction and some very good performances from an impressive cast it never lets you down. You may not like some of the actions from Danny himself, and he is a character doomed to failure, but as Christopher Plummer’s character points out…although Danny may have his heart up his ass at times, he still has a big one.

What makes Danny Collins a good film is that it never gets too cheesy, and the characters are believable. The happiness and sadness of the story are finely balanced to keep the audience enthralled, and in the end even teases an answer that we never know the answer to. This may be the very answer to the films main question though, and that is what makes the story of Danny Collins a satisfying tale.

**** 4/5

Danny Collins is out on DVD in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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