Monday, 17 December 2018

Imagine if Lennon had written to you

FILMS “based on a true story” are pretty much ten a penny. But how about one “kind of based on

FILMS “based on a true story” are pretty much ten a penny. But how about one “kind of based on a true story — a little bit”?

That’s the intriguing claim that opens Danny Collins — the story of an ageing, cheesy rock star who belatedly receives a letter John Lennon wrote him 43 years ago and has an epiphany.

Collins, played by Al Pacino — an actor who’s never afraid to try something different — quits his tour and lavish wild–man lifestyle to rediscover his musical heart and connect with the son he’s never met.

The real–life story is just as intriguing. Back in 2010, respected Liverpool–born singer–songwriter Steve Tilston was asked by an interviewer to tell him something he didn’t know about his life.

Out came the story about a 1971 letter the former Beatle had written to Tilston in response to comments he had made in underground magazine ZigZag. Tilston had voiced his fear that too much fame and success might change his whole experience of life and divorce him from the source of his songwriting inspiration.

But Lennon wanted to reassure him that “being rich doesn’t change your experiences in the way you think”.

The only problem was that the former Beatle sent the letter care of the magazine, which never passed it on.

It wasn’t until 2005 that Tilston was contacted out of the blue by an American collector of rock memorabilia - and finally got to read Lennon’s message.

Among those inspired by the story was Crazy, Stupid, Love screenwriter Dan Fogelman, whose directorial debut Danny Collins is.

Starring alongside Pacino are Bobby Cannavale as Danny’s son, Christopher Plummer as his long–suffering manager, and Annette Bening, whose character runs the hotel he checks into after receiving Lennon’s letter.

No spoilers is the firm policy of this column, but happily for music fans the soundtrack does feature a number of Lennon numbers. Even better, you could argue, is that Steve Tilston doesn’t go unacknowledged either.

Review: Matthew Wilson

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