Review: ‘Jackie & Ryan’, Starring Katherine Heigl and Ben Barnes


“I’ve heard it said, that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn.” A direct quote from the Broadway hit Wicked, it’s one of the first things I thought about when sitting down to describe Jackie & Ryan. The film centers around this theme of entering someone’s life at a time when it is most needed. Jackie & Ryan is as gentle as the light strum of a guitar and different from anything Katherine Heigl has done in the past.

Jackie (Katherine Heigl) is a former musician who has just moved back to her small hometown with her daughter Lia (Emily Alyn Lind) in tow after leaving her husband. In the beginning of what is looking to be a nasty divorce, Jackie meets Ryan (Ben Barnes), a street musician trying for his big break, after she’s hit by a car.

Because being kind does actually matter (and people in movies are so easy to trust strangers into their home to crash on their couch), Ryan sticks around doing menial chores around the house. The two find solace in each other’s friendship that is slightly something more as they both try to regain their footing on the new path their lives have taken them.

Katherine Heigl is a breath of fresh air. Used to seeing her in between good and bad romantic comedies, this role is more meaty and emotionally provoking than most of her past work. The film itself isn’t over the top and showy, which is a nice change. It’s quiet, purposeful, and takes its time getting to where it needs to go, something not everyone will necessarily take to. Ben Barnes is able to match Heigl in an unlikely chemistry that is subtle, but there.

There are plot points director and screenwriter Ami Canaan Maan could have expanded upon, but Jackie & Ryan is driven by a solid theme, strong cast performances, and a dimmed setting that is perfect for the use of the folk songs played. It could have moved a bit more briskly and some more time could have been spent broadening the relationship between the two leads, but the film is enjoyable and ultimately hopeful in a genuine way.


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