Saturday, 13 June 2015

Danny Collins - Review

Danny Collins, 15, 106 mins (Big-Indie Pictures) - Released: 29th May 2015.

There aren’t many comedy- rama films any more. Usurped by the genres of either romantic, or more populist trend of ‘gross- out’ comedy (as Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, James Franco, and Seth Rogen et al will testify), the lost sub-genre of the understated, quietly touching drama-comedy has become lost by its rather niche wayside.

Similarly, the titular protagonist played expertly by Al Pacino here - is also the product of a somewhat bygone era. Very much a fading, edgier version of a Rod Stewart figure.

Down on his luck, long estranged from his family, he’s become jaded with the excess of celebrity. At The Hilton he meets Mary (Annette Bening) who has charms and flaws of her own. She convinces Danny to regain his life and reconnect with his family...

After somewhat of a fallow stream of middlingly successful, more independent fare (Stand Up-Guys), Pacino’s performance here is almost revelatory. Subtle, witty, quick-fire and extremely funny, when next January’s awards-season begins, he’s already being touted as a possible front-runner.

As should Bening; natural, sweet, charming and a greatly charismatic foil for Pacino, the two share a very easy connection on-screen, thanks to a glittering screenplay: ‘While you check me in, I’ll check you out!’.

Writer Dan Fogelman gave Steve Carrell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone similar ‘patter’ in Crazy, Stupid Love. His directorial debut is so self-assured, confident and natural, rather similar to the tone the film itself often strikes.

There’s exceptional support from Bobby Cannavale as Pacino’s son harboring a secret, and veteran octogenarian Christopher Plummer who’s every bit the charmer now as Captain Von-Trapp was half a century before! It’s his wiry curmudgeon of a manager that provides Danny with a long-lost letter from a certain John Lennon. This is made all the more compelling as it’s inspired by truth; the life of British folk-singer Steve Tilson.

All these elements might just mean that by the unique alchemy of charm, terrific performances, growing word-of-mouth and a hint of adapted-biopic, its the sleeper-hit of the summer, and prove to be the rarest of double-whammy’s: a hit both critically and commercially. Its closest cinematic cousins (although not always in those respects) are possibly 2005’s Shall We Dance with Richard Gere (also starring Cannavale), or Curtis Hanson’s film of the same year: In Her Shoes with Cameron Diaz and Toni Colette. Human-driven stories, that refreshingly put heart, love and more than a little ‘soul’ in place of visual-effects. Terrific.

Rating: * * * * 

Image result for danny collins poster