Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover

Danny Collins


Starring: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale and Christopher Plummer
Distributor: Entertainment One
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 05 October 2015

Danny Collins has had a successful career, enough that he can live a life of luxury. When the aging rock star has another birthday, his manager and best friend presents him with an extraordinary gift. As a young up-and-coming artist Danny had appeared on a radio show discussing his hopes and fears for the future. The show was heard by John Lennon who was moved to write to Danny, but as he sent it to the radio station Danny didn't receive it until many decades later...

Danny Collins (2015. 106 mins) is an odd film to categorise. It is funny without being a comedy and sad without being a tragedy. The film was directed by Dan Fogelman and was based on a true story, well sort of. The finding of a Lennon letter many years later is used as a jumping off point for a story of attempted redemption.

The main problem with Danny (Al Pacino) is that he is sick of his own life. He hasn’t written a new song in thirty years and, when he tours, he sees a sea of geriatric faces all wanting to hear the same songs over and over. This is quite understandable and I have often mused on the thought that singers must get royally sick of playing the same songs over and over again. You see the same audience reaction all the time. The last time I saw Bowie play live, not so many years ago, the audience became restless because he had the temerity to play mostly his new album, whereas the audience, having paid their money, wanted to use him like a human jukebox.

This misery he hides beneath a veneer of drink and drugs, neither of which makes him happy. The receipt of the Lennon letter spurs Danny into making changes in his life to see if he can find the person he used to be. He leaves his expensive home, with the ridiculously young girlfriend - Danny doesn’t even care that she has been sleeping with someone else - and books himself into a hotel.

Free of the trappings of his life, Danny shows that deep down he remains a kind man, a point reiterated by his manager, Frank (Christopher Plummer). He seems to find a second chance at romance with the hotel's manager, Mary (Annette Bening) and tries to reconnect with a son, Tom (Bobby Cannavale) he had with a groupie thirty year before.

At first this all looks to be a feel-good movie and at this point you would expect everything to work out fine, but the film is more ambivalent about Danny’s chances at happiness. He finally gets down to writing a new song only to be told by his manager that the only thing which was keeping him financially afloat was the touring, the endless nightmare of playing the same song to an aging fan base. Adding to his problems is the fact that after so long Tom is not interested in Danny’s desire to connect.

In the end Danny’s attempt at playing his new music fails spectacularly and he reverts to his old persona, this time in front of his new family.

I’m not sure why this film lost money. It has a top notch cast and even at seventy-five there is no denying that Pacino can command the screen. We see Danny enjoying his new freedom, probably happier that he has been for twenty years, but we also see the heartbreak on Pacino’s face when Danny realises that he cannot escape his own success. The supporting cast are also incredibly effective and apart from those mentioned I particularly enjoyed Jennifer Garner’s portrayal of Danny’s daughter in law the strong and sassy Samantha.

The DVD has a couple of extras, Behind the scenes of Danny Collins, which is really a promo for the film, and Danny Collins – Album Covers Through the Years, where they have taken shots of Pacino from various times in his live and mocked up album covers.

I have to say I liked the film. I liked the way that it didn’t all tie together in the end, which nearly made up for the mawkish and unnecessary health scare B plot which otherwise marred a thoughtful and well nuanced film.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.

Amazon Instant Video
iTunes GB
Digital Download