Sunday, April 05, 2015

"Danny Collins" is a somewhat conventional story of a troubled aging pop star, and the family medical story is mishandled

Danny Collins”, by Dan Fogelman, is supposed to be a quasi-true story of a pop musician’s redemption, loosely based on the life of Steve Tilston.
The film opens in 1969 as an agent tells a “prepubescent” Danny (Eric Michael Roy) how talented he is, even his writing as well as music.  Then the movie shifts to present day, as Al Pacino plays the aging singer, trying to rehab himself living in a hotel room with a piano in the room, after a last tour performance – mainly by making right by his abandoned family.  Annette Benning plays the steady hotel manager.

We see the undelivered letter from John Lennon (shot near the Dakota Hotel in New York in 1980) during the closing credits.  This is the second film in the last few days about a mystery hardcopy “letter”. 

His manager (Christopher Plummer) has shown it do him.  Soon, Collins tracks down his illegitimate son Tom Donnelley (Bobby Cannavale) and wife (Jennifer Garner), very pregnant with a second child, and very curious granddaughter. Donnelley works in construction and struggles with a typical mortgage in the New Jersey burbs.  The girl has AHD.  So Collins tries to pull every string to fix all his karma problems. Yet, he keeps doing coke.

The movie starts to develop some medical suspense.  Tom has a rare leukemia, and is trying an experimental immunotherapy where he won’t lose his hair or get real sick.  The movie builds up toward the end as Danny tries to support his son when the son learns whether he will live.  But I think the very end could be presented in a more forthright fashion.
The official site is here from Bleeker Street films. 

I saw the film at the Angelika Mosaic in Merrifield VA before a fair Easter Sunday audience. 

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