Ami Canaan Mann’s “Jackie & Ryan” is a musical drama that makes you believe in the little philosophies of life. What if everything in life could be decided by asking yourself two simple questions? Consider life to be a long journey that you are traveling through, and just ask yourself: What should be my next move, my next stop? And once you get the answer to that, take everything that you think is needed and work on a tactic to reach there.

Yes, “Jackie & Ryan” stars Ms. 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 a fantasy island, and this isn’t something totally inane 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. It’s old-fashioned, deeply melancholic, and satisfying country music. Heigl plays Jackie, an ex-celebrity pop star. She does not have health insurance and is battling the odds in order to get 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 crashes on people’s couch, and he helps them out in parking lots as they have just met with an accident. 

“Jackie & Ryan” is not a great film. It does falter 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 known 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. You go with the flow as the snow falls and the guitars start rattling,

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 was an ironic comment on Heigl’s career, as if she is saying that everything she had done before this film was utterly pointless.


Also Like Jackie & Ryan: Sing Street (2016)


“Jackie & Ryan” is not profound like “Once” or “Begin Again,” but it never over-manipulates you or takes advantage of the premise in any way. It’s 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; it’s about a struggle that 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. 

“Jackie & Ryan” is not a must-see. It’s about a pair of struggling people trying hard to make everything alright. But it takes all the right turns, sliding away from the clichés like the snow on a Utah highway.

★★★

Jackie & Ryan (2014) Links: IMDb, Wikipedia
Jackie & Ryan (2014) Cast: Katherine Heigl, Ben Barnes, Ryan Bingham, Clea Duvall, and Emily Alyn Lind
Where to watch Jackie & Ryan (2014)

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