Jackie & Ryan (2014)

Jackie & Ryan (2014)
  • Time: 90 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Ami Canaan Mann
  • Cast: Katherine Heigl, Ben Barnes, Clea DuVall


A modern day train hopper fighting to become a successful musician, and a single mom battling to maintain custody of her daughter, defy their circumstances by coming together in a relationship that may change each others lives forever.

One comment

  • Jackie & Ryan is a whisper of a film – slight in plot, unhurried in pacing, and gentle in drama. Yet the very simplicity of its focus and narrative is what buoys this modestly ambitious romantic drama, which follows in the footsteps of the equally sweet and gentle Once and Begin Again.

    Ryan (Ben Barnes) is a drifter, train-hopping on the northbound cross-country line with little to his name other than the clothes on his back and a battered guitar case. He’s a man of loose attachments, making a living doing odd jobs and busking on the streets. He alights upon the small and snowy town of Ogden, Utah to meet up with a fellow busker who may have some potential prospects for him in Portland, Oregon. Whilst he’s in town, Ryan pays a visit to a former mentor who, as he soon learns, has gone back on the road at the urging of his patient and supportive wife (an effective Clea DuVall).

    Jackie (Katherine Heigl) is a former recording star back in the town she spent her life trying to escape. She’s mired in a bitter and expensive divorce battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband, who threatens to sue for full custody of their young daughter Lia (Emily Alyn Lind). Jackie is barely making ends meet – she and Lia are living with her mother Miriam (Sheryl Lee), all her credit cards are on the verge of maxing out, and she’s just lost her insurance. So when Jackie gets hit by a car and Ryan comes to her aid, she refuses to be taken to a hospital and instead agrees to let him take her home and bandage her wound.

    A thank you turns into dinner and a room for the night. Miriam is rightfully wary of this stranger, making no bones of her eagerness to bid him farewell. Yet he finds excuses to extend his stay: driving Jackie around town for job interviews and heated conference calls with her husband’s lawyer, teaching Lia to play guitar, fixing their leaking roof. There are brief stops at a friend’s funeral and a local music festival where Jackie brings Lia onstage for a lovely duet. Nothing particularly melodramatic happens; in many respects, the film plays like a subdued Nicholas Sparks romance.

    That low-key approach is admirable. Writer-director Ami Canaan Mann (daughter of Michael) doesn’t make a big show of things, preferring a subtle and straightforward rendering. Whilst there is romanticism to be found in Ryan due to Barnes’s appealing and likeable performance, the film is clear-eyed about its characters essential ordinariness and economic circumstances. More significantly, Mann makes no pretense of Jackie and Ryan’s romance. Not all love stories are meant to last a lifetime. Often the most resonant are the ones that flamed for the briefest of moments, the ones that fed when one was most hungry, encouraged when most in doubt, or comforted when most lonely.

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