Friday, July 3, 2015

Movie with Abe: Jackie and Ryan

Jackie and Ryan
Directed by Ami Canaan Mann
Released July 3, 2015

There’s something about music that makes romance inevitable. A scene in the 1975 Robert Altman film “Nashville” comes to mind in which multiple women smile during a performance by Keith Carradine’s Tom Frank because they think that he is singing specifically to them that illustrates the power of music to connect people. When it’s just two people bonding through a shared passion and talent for music, it’s considerably less complicated, but it can still involve complicated people facing their own struggles while trying to find love with each other, which is the premise of the new drama “Jackie and Ryan.”

Ryan (Ben Barnes) is a familiar character, described most easily as a drifter, hopping trains to travel around the country, playing his guitar for money wherever he goes. He arrives in Ogden, Utah, checking in on the woman his friend has impregnated and her young child. He springs into action when he witnesses Jackie (Katherine Heigl) being injured in a minor car accident, and driving her back home leads to a dinner with her disapproving mother and bright-eyed young daughter, and the start of something much bigger than a chance meeting.

A love for music is a major part of what brings Jackie and Ryan together. Jackie is in the midst of a miserable custody battle, with her rich New York husband trying to take her daughter away from her. Jackie struggles to find work, interviewing for positions that are unfunded and couldn’t have possibly worked out, with local people gushing over her past as a famous musician, a distant memory that can’t help to support her in her current state. Jackie is at a place far removed from a former success, whereas her new friend is just at the start of what could well be a fruitful career.

The setup here isn’t something new – there have been a number of films, especially in recent years, about romances beginning as a result of a musical connection of some sort. Its Utah setting enables the story to be blanketed in a calm snow, which is nice, and its characters, save for Jackie’s vicious offscreen ex, are all pleasant and sweet-natured. Heigl, famous for her TV work on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and Barnes, who played Prince Caspian in the Chronicles of Narnia films, are decent, able leads who help this relatively endearing story come to life.


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