Ami Canaan Mann’s Jackie & Ryan is a sort of low-rent Nicholas Sparks romance that, for want of a better way to put it, never generates any sparks of its own. Jackie (Katherine Heigl) is a country singer who’s moved back to her family home in Utah with her daughter Lia (Emily Alyn Lind) while going through a nasty divorce and career slump.
Dreamboat street busker Ryan (Ben Barnes), whom the audience first meets as he’s ridin’ the rails like impossibly hunky drifters absolutely still do in 2015, has a meet-cute with Jackie by literally saving her life.
They go on to metaphorically save each other’s lives. Their problems? Jackie is debating whether to sell off her swank Manhattan condo to fund her divorce — and who hasn’t wrestled with the decision to liquidate their Manhattan digs at some point? — while Ryan is too shy to sing his own songs, instead preferring to butcher classics like Geeshie Wiley’s “Last Kind Word Blues.”
The tepid Jackie & Ryan‘s only real strength is its supporting cast, including the perpetually undervalued Clea DuVall and Sheryl Lee, the latter as Jackie’s mother, who openly wants Ryan out of her daughter’s life in spite of his perfect stubble and Jesus-like carpentry skills. As a result, she’s the stealth hero of the film.
Jackie & Ryan
Written and directed by Ami Canaan Mann
Opens July 3, Village East Cinema
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 1, 2015