Jackie is the mother of the nine-year-old Lia who has left her life and husband in New York to move in with her mother in her hometown. However, Jackie is now engaged in an expensive custody case. On the other hand we have Ryan, the musician who travels by train from one place to another. Due to an unfortunate incident Jackie and Ryan meet each other and learn that they must fight for the things they love. For Jackie, this means getting custody of her daughter and Ryan will have to find its way in the music world. The only thing Ryan needs to do, is write his own songs.
Katherine Heigl seems to feel quite at home in the romantic film dramas, as this is the umpteenth film that fits in the list of Knocked Up, The Big Wedding and Life as We Know It. Whether this is a good thing remains to be seen, as these films usually do not score very high. It has less to do with Heigl’s acting, but more with the lack of a good script. In Jackie & Ryan Heigl plays the role of Jackie, a woman who has left her husband and urban life to return to the city where she grew up. Jackie has a nine-year-old daughter, played by Emily Alyn Lind, but when her ex-husband wants to take custody of their daughter, Jackie has to fight for her with all she’s got left.
I thought Heigl played the role of Izzie Stevens in the hugely popular series Grey’s Anatomy, extremely well. Therefore it is sad to see that her performance in films are often not that amazing. There is one scene where we can see how frustrated she is, but we see this side too little. The other lead role is Ryan the musician, who is played by Ben Barnes. His part is the best thing the film has to offer, but only if you are a fan of the music he makes. Ryan plays country music on his guitar and together with his friend Georgie (Ryan Bingham), who plays the violin, he hopes to get his big break through. He just has to make his own music.
These two totally independent storylines come together in a fairly predictable way. If what comes next was more believable, we could have forgiven the predictability. But there is hardly chemistry between the two characters, making you wonder why Ryan stays as long at Jackie’s house anyway. He still has a dream to pursue. There are some beautiful moments though, like when Ryan and daughter Lia sit on the roof, and the moment when Jackie and Ryan sit on the porch and Ryan picks up his guitar and plays a little tune. But the relationship between Ryan and Jackie’s daughter Lia is more visible, which is certainly somewhat strange. Heigl and Barnes played together before, as brother and sister in the film The Big Wedding.
A character who could be better explored is that of Jackie’s mother, played by Sheryl Lee. In the beginning we see a bit of hostility towards the arrival of the musician, but as the story progresses, the ‘friendship’ between the mother and Ryan is suddenly okay. When this aspect was described better, the characters had more depth. Now Jackie and Ryan were more separate characters with the only purpose of meeting each other is to make the other realize something. And then they continue their lives as if they had never met. The film was therefore incoherent, sometimes boring and towards the end you are left with too many questions. Partly due to the abrupt ending some things remain unclear. Ryan’s end is very well-organized, although his storyline is much better and interesting. But with Jackie you still wonder: “And now?”
There were also times where you might be questioning the assembly. When Ryan is busy with his cheerful and quite upbeat country tune, you can hear a more mournful soundtrack in the background. This contrast of sounds is not catchy and it was better if the makers just got rid of one. However, the music is the best aspect the film has to offer. If you love country music, the music is really enjoyable and the voice of Ryan fits perfectly. Especially the final scene is amazing when Ryan finally sings his own written song. But Ryan is not the only who sings a song. Although it is pretty clear we hear a studio recording when Jackie takes the stage. Especially when her successor does his thing and we actually hear the sound coming out from his microphone with a nice reverberation.
Saying all this, the film isn’t really that bad and is at some points quite entertaining. The location looks amazing, the music is really good for the ears and sometimes there are some beautiful moments between the main characters. Unfortunately there’s very little chemistry between Jackie and Ryan to make these scenes truly epic. Moreover, these characters are too separated. They have their own storyline and it never looks as a whole, the story simply remains too flat. In addition, you are never really drawn into the story and some scenes just don’t add anything to the film. Jackie & Ryan will probably do even worse among the male audience, but I think some women will definitely swoon away while the actor Ben Barnes sings his song.