Once, released in 2007, was an independent Irish musical movie, which ended up shocking the world by winning an Oscar. Many movies since have retold the story of two odd people falling in love with acoustic guitars playing in the background. Jackie & Ryan is a similar attempt. A single mom wrestles for the custody of her child while a train hopper attempts to foray into music. They strike up a unique relationship, altering their circumstances.
Taking inspiration from Once, Ryan is a daydreamer, dreaming of becoming a famous musician. However, he is an aimless train-riding hobo, despite his handsome looks and polite personality. As the movie starts, he is visiting his friend, travelling from Utah to Portland. On his way, he meets Katherine Heigl. She appreciates his song and pesters him about taking his passion professionally.
As it turns out, Jackie is fighting for custody of her teenage daughter as she distances herself from her husband permanently. She desperately needs love and Ryan (the hobo) fills the void in the meantime. The director Ami Mann didn’t want to paint conventional hobo stereotype and instead ends up humanizing them, showing them as hardworking and sensitive individuals. The creative process takes a hit as people sitting on a porch/ street corner/ riding a train eventually find true love.
Katherine Heigl needed this somewhat better outing as compared to her previous bad studio hits and indie movies. On the other hand, she’s not convincing enough of a music fan or an actor, for that matter. Most of the roles seem miscast. Jackie & Ryan however lacks the emotional component when compared to Once. The climactic scene feels somewhat wayward and postscript. The parallel duet of two people singing the same song but sitting miles apart is touching. Romantic dramas need to have more such romantic moments.
Jackie & Ryan is a decent one-time watch. The leads have played their parts well but were constricted due to the story arc, screenplay, and plot. Thus, they remain vague and forgettable. The songs are better than the script, but lacked in emotion and intensity. The lyrics are average at best and so is the singer’s voice.
Photo credit: Jackie and Ryan film