“Where am I gonna go next? How am I gonna get there?”
Ami Canaan Mann’s musical drama makes you believe in this little philosophy. What if everything in life can be decided by asking yourself two simple questions. Consider life to be a long journey which you are travelling through and just ask yourself: What should be my next move, my next stop? And once you get the answer to that, just take everything that you think is needed and work on a tactic to reach there.
Yes this stars Miss. Heigl who doesn’t frown when she is called upon to face the ugly truth. Things are very different here. She does not need 27 dresses or a long over-stretched get-the-boy-to-fall-for-you-cliché because this isn’t fantasy island and this isn’t something utterly stupid served in the name of ‘mindless romantic-comedies.’
I know that the title sounds as generic as it can be, but when you see Ben Barnes hopping trains in order to get to a place where music should get him places, you understand that this is not your usual Katherine Heigl film. The music is not hippy, nor does it make you dance. Its old-fashioned, deeply melancholic and satisfying country music. Heigl plays Jackie, an ex-celebrity pop-star. She does not have a health insurance and is battling the odds in order to get the custody of her daughter. Ben Barnes on the other hand plays Ryan who is a struggling musician, a traveler and is mostly homeless. When he isn’t homeless, he usually crashing on people’s couch when he helps them out in parking lots as they have just met with an accident.
Jackie & Ryan is not a great film, it does falters on quite a few notes. The screenplay is deliberately slow-paced which doesn’t always work in its favor. While Ben Barnes manages to shine in every single scene, I wouldn’t say the same for Heigl. There are times in the film that remind you of what she is know for. The cheesiness is stuck so hard on her face that even when she tries hard, it clearly comes out wrong. But then again, they are moments of complete serenity when you see people talking over the beautiful landscape of Utah. As the snow falls and the guitars start rattling, you go with the flow.
There’s a scene in the film where a woman points out how great Jackie was in her life as a pop-star. She nudges her compliment and replies that everything she sang was pointless. I somehow felt it is an irony on Heigl’s career. Where she is saying that everything she had done before this film was completely pointless. Jackie & Ryan is not profound like Once or Begin Again but it never over-manipulates you or take advantage or the premise in any way. Its pretty much like the black coffee in a diner which can be poured out just in the right amount. It’s sad but never tragic, its about a struggle but never beats your head with everything wrong in the world. Also, while you go through the film you expect a cheap-sentimental ending but Mann doesn’t give you one.
Final Verdict: Jackie & Ryan is not a must see. It’s about a pair of struggling people trying hard to make everything alright. But its takes all the right turns sliding away the clichés like the snow on a Utah highway.