Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 2015. Big Indie Pictures, ShivHans Pictures. Screenplay by Dan Fogelman. Cinematography by Steve Yedlin. Produced by Nimitt Mankad, Jessie Nelson. Music by Ryan Adams, Theodore Shapiro. Production Design by Dan Bishop. Film Editing by Julie Monroe.
Al Pacino plays a Manilow-esque crooner who hasn’t written a song in decades but spends his time making tons of cash playing stadium concerts for the nostalgia crowd. His long-time devoted manager (Christopher Plummer) informs him that he has found an incredible artifact that neither of them knew about before: a letter written to Pacino by John Lennon that he never received, in which he is encouraged to pursue the limelight because he is a true artist who will never be corrupted by fame. Pacino, years into a life of phoning it in, indulging in drugs and booze and about to marry a kewpie doll of a girl much too young for him, is inspired to put his life into turnaround. He cancels his current tour, dumps the fiancée, takes up residence in a middling New Jersey Hilton and tries to reconnect with the son (Bobby Cannavale) he never met before. He also plans to start writing again, but the road to redemption is rocky when you go before your fans with new material and they just want you to sing the same old stuff, while your son has absolutely no intention of letting you in no matter how much his adorable ADHD daughter likes you. Moments that are sweet and spontaneous are combined with plot elements that often push the limits of contrivance, the most disappointing being the scenes between Cannavale and Pacino that are badly written and directed. Thankfully, a world-class level of performers keeps it from being an embarrassment, as watching Pacino have a few laughs with the hotel manager, played with magical finesse by Annette Bening, is a great source of pleasure. The leading man hasn’t been this lightly charming in years, his comedic timing always first-rate and his deeper moments never maudlin or sappy. Shame that the film doesn’t meet up to his standard, as it could have been something more delicately poignant but begs just a bit too much to appeal to sentiment to really be momentous. The plot is inspired by a similar incident that happened to Steve Tilston.
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Actor-Musical/Comedy (Al Pacino)