Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Danny Collins


When I see a new Al Pacino movie I always wonder which Al I’ll be getting. Will it be the icy restraint and menace of Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part II? Or will it be the wildly over-the-top screaming of Tony Montana in Scarface? I’m happy to say that this time it’s the more subdued Pacino, who can be very, very good when he restrains himself. He plays an aging rock star slowly killing himself with dope and booze. Same old story, right? I was losing interest, and then Danny’s long-time agent, Christopher Plummer, gives him something that he misplaced forty years ago, at the very beginning of his career. It’s a letter from John Lennon, responding to something he read in an interview where Danny said he was afraid that success might fuck him up. John says it doesn’t have to be that way, and says Danny should call him and they can talk.

Danny begins to obsess about how things might have been different if he had known John wanted to talk to him. (It probably wouldn’t have, in my opinion, but I can see how he would have a hard time dealing with that big What If?) So he decides to mend his ways. He goes to New Jersey to connect with the grown son he has never met. Son doesn’t want anything to do with his famous asshole father. But … well, you know how it goes. There are no big surprises. In the meantime he starts a relationship with Annette Bening, who manages the hotel where he’s staying.

It all worked pretty well for me, with one big exception: I simply could not buy Al Pacino as a rock star. You would think that would sink the whole show right there, but oddly enough, it didn’t. I just sort of gritted my teeth the few times he was on the stage, and then looked on him as a very famous person. Yeah, he’s writing again, for the first time in forever, and Annette thinks it’s great music and I don’t think it’s great music, but again, I just ignored that. It’s a good story, and a good performance by Al and Annette and Bobby Cannavale as the son and Jennifer Garner as the daughter-in-law.