Thursday, 9 July 2015

REVIEW - JACKIE & RYAN (AMI CANAAN MANN)


A wild love story, or rather one set in the relative wilds of rural Utah. It's a total cliche to claim the location as another 'character' in the film, but Jackie & Ryan is so indebted to this location that one could claim it to be the character here. Not the clean, unnatural lines and artistic decay of a contemporary urban landscape, but the same empathic investigation into how our physical spaces inform our mental spaces as humans. There's a beautiful tactility to Ami Canaan Mann's depiction of her settings, and she avoids cutesifying this small-town locale by employing respect over love for its qualities. These are the trappings of the love story between Ben Barnes' travelling musician and Katherine Heigl's troubled former musician; that love story itself is no further than formulaic, so be thankful that the performers here are committed to stressing the verisimilitude of Mann's direction. Heigl is particularly convincing, which engenders a slight degree of meta-tinged poignancy to her role as a one-time industry name retreating to a more humble lifestyle. Supporting performances are also strong, including Hollywood's most versatile and underrated child actor Emily Alyn Lind as Heigl's daughter, and Clea DuVall as a struggling single parent. An impressive bluegrass soundtrack aside, there's little to recommend Jackie & Ryan as a feat of filmmaking, but it's a solid, enjoyable film with some appealing touches, and a fine ensemble of actors and singers.