The letter serves as a wake-up call, instantly connecting Danny to the musician he once was. He cancels his tour, breaks up with the fiancee, and orders his private plane to New Jersey, where he moves into a suburban hotel managed by Mary Sinclair (Annette Bening). He buys a new piano and has it delivered to his hotel room so he can start composing. And he reaches out to the son he has never met (Bobby Cannavale), who lives in New Jersey with his pregnant wife (Jennifer Garner) and young daughter (Giselle Eisenberg).
Al Pacino is not entirely convincing as a rock star on stage but his genially raffish charm is as endearing to us as it is to the people he charms along the way. The highlight of the film, directed by David Gordon Green ("Pineapple Express") is what he calls his “patter” with Mary, a sparkling throwback to the kind of romantic banter that might have been tossed back and forth by Tracy and Hepburn.
Immune to his charm, at least at first, is his son, even after Danny performs some rock star magic to help the family. But that’s what movies are for — to let us see Danny overcome his son’s efforts not to give in, all to the tune of some of Lennon’s most moving songs. And to wonder what we might do differently if we got a long-lost letter from John Lennon.