Review | Danny Collins – The Further Demise of Al Pacino?

This is a film about Al Pacino playing a thinly veiled metaphor for Al Pacino. Danny Collins is a commercially successful but artistically bankrupt, ageing singer who wants for nothing financially – a Bob Dylan turned into a Neil Diamond. On his coke fuelled birthday he receives a letter written to him when he was a young, idealistic, artist by an admiring John Lennon. This prompts a late life crisis for Danny as he sets out to write music again, reconnect with his estranged son and redeem himself in the eyes of right on secular saint Lennon.

He does this by checking in to quite a nice hotel in New Jersey which the film seems to think of as akin to slumming in a flophouse. He tries to establish a relationship with his son’s family by throwing money at them. He also incessantly cracks onto the hotel’s manager, played admirably by Annette Bening. Again, here the filmmakers seem to think that a ludicrously powerful man making advances on someone in the service industry, a woman who cannot tell him to fuck off, is charming as opposed to smug, uncomfortable and obnoxious.

This movie is fifty percent auld fellas chuckling to themselves as if it’s a punchline in itself. The other fifty percent is an attempt to pull on the old heartstrings. This isn’t helped by the fact that the song Danny begins to work on is maudlin, transition year poetry blandness that Oasis at their drunkest would have thought of as derivative.

Danny Collins -
Al Pacino as the titular Danny Collins

Performance wise, you’re watching the hollowed out husk of Pacino twitch his way through the runtime. Annette Benning does well with a role that sees her acting irrationally. She initially begins to bond with Danny by getting drunk with him. When the film requires some third act drama she later has a freakout on finding him hungover after a party as if she’s suddenly a teetotal, judgemental cow. Bobby Cannavale is the standout, playing Danny’s son with a level of fragile blokey dignity.


It’s a sad state of affairs when you have to remind yourself that Al fucking Pacino was once really, really good. Like The Simpsons post season 10 it’s better to just ignore this, tell yourself he’s earned the right to cash in and not spoil your memories. If you fancy watching this entitled, syrupy, white-wine-nonsense fog of a film have a copy of Dog Day Afternoon ready as a palette cleanser.

Danny Collins is in cinemas on May 29th. Check out the trailer below.

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