*** OUT OF 4
Debuting director-established screenwriter (Crazy Stupid Love) Dan Fogelman weaves a touching and poignant tale of an aging rock star seeking a new direction for what appears to be a hedonistic lifestyle. The eponymous Danny Collins is played by Al Pacino in one of his better performances of recent times. The catalyst for this imaginative fictional portrayal is an undelivered 1971 letter to Danny written by John Lennon which urges him to stay true to his talent. The actual letter was written by Lennon to a British musician named Steve Tilston and is the reason the opening credits to the film read “The following is based on a kind of true story a little bit”.
The letter causes Danny to re-examine his life and he decides it’s time for some major changes. He flies to New Jersey to reconnect with Tom Donnelly (a powerful Bobby Cannavale), the son Danny produced from a one-nighter with a groupie who has since passed away. Tom wants nothing to do with his super star dad and would rather struggle to make it on his own. Danny’s desire to help his son and his family becomes the driving force behind this winding road to redemption.
Adding to the enjoyable ride is Danny’s personal manager, played with sarcastic humor, by the great Christopher Plummer and Annette Benning who plays a hotel manager named Mary Sinclair that Danny “hits-on” over and over for a dinner date
Mr. Fogelman’s script has many plot devices but his use of terminal illness was unnecessary and weakens what turns out to be a terrific little film that has abundant heart and loads of passion.