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Danny Collins (2015)

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Danny Collins is a promising singer-songwriter in the early Seventies. After a difficult first album he turns to schlocky romantic songs and becomes a big hit with the ladies. Forty years on his manager buys him a letter from his hero John Lennon which was written following an interview in which Collins talked about his hero. It was sent to a magazine and withheld for its sales value. He is simultaneously devastated and re-invigorated and re-evaluates life from his coke-addled perspective in a mansion in LA where he’s shacked up with a decades-younger tramp who has sex with other men. He wants to go back to Year Zero and write his own songs again and find the son a groupie had by him back in New Jersey. The wondrous Al Pacino is of course Collins, Christopher Plummer is the manager who wants him back on track for a moneymaker tour and Bobby Cannavale is the son, now married to Jennifer Garner and a father himself, of an autistic daughter. And Annette Bening is the manageress of the hotel where Danny holes up to re-examine his life:  a safe space, except when reality barges in on occasion. He freezes when it comes to playing new material and returns to his old ways. His son regrets exposing his medical problems. Danny tries to do over everything with money. It’s a pretty great premise, written and directed by Dan Fogelman and based on a true story about a Welsh singer. It’s conventional stuff but the nuanced performances raise the bar and the quasi-romance with Bening is realistically effected even within the generic framework. They somehow managed to get the rights to a whole raft of John Lennon’s life-changing songs (not that I’m prejudiced) but Al also sings some originals. He can act. That’s all I’m saying. An overlooked gem.

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About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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