Jackie & Ryan

jackie&ryanJackie & Ryan is a love story involving Ryan (played by Ben Barnes), a musically-gifted drifter who rides trains across the country while honing his craft. Much like Woody Guthrie, Ryan rides the rails, stopping here and there to perform. He is a free spirit and is not tied to any particular place.

Jackie (played by Katherine Heigl) is a soon-to-be divorced mom who is trying to pickup up the pieces of her life while dealing with a nasty divorce. She is a has-been: once she had a promising music career, money, and a rich husband. Now she ekes out a living as a soon-to-be single mom in Ogden, Utah.

When a chance meeting brings them together, each finds something that the other lacks. For Ryan, Jackie symbolizes stability, rooted in her hometown with no compulsion to wander. For Jackie, Ryan symbolizes wander lust; not being tied down to a set place. Jackie has lost her freedom due to losing her recording contract, but more importantly, her young daughter ties her to home.

While the love story is predictable and the acting is serviceable, the real star of this film is the music. Both Barnes and Heigl do credible jobs portraying musicians. The songs evoke Woodie-Guthrie-inpsired folk in many ways:

Directed by Ami Canaan Mann (daughter of Micheal Mann), Jackie & Ryan is a quiet, realistic love story which is made better by the addition of a fantastic soundtrack.

Worth a look if you like folk music, or stories about musicians and life on the road.

Skip it if Katherine Heigl annoys you.

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Jackie & Ryan

-Steve

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Once

Once is the story of an unnamed Irish busker (Glen Hansard), who plays for money in the streets of Dublin to supplement his day job as a vacuum cleaner repairman. A chance meeting with a Czech immigrant (Markéta Irglová) sets them on a path to romance and collaborative songwriting/performing.

Irglová’s character (also unnamed) is a classically-trained concert pianist who practices at a local music shop during the day. At night she does odd jobs and takes care of her daughter and mom.

As the story progresses, the two collaborate on songs and eventually record a demo record for Hansard’s character to take to London to help secure a record deal. As their personal lives intrude on their budding romance, the movie concludes with bittersweet (and realistic) resolution.

Writer/director John Carney cast real-life musicans Hansard and Irglová rather than actors, which gives the film a natural, realistic quality; they seem to be real people caught on camera by chance, rather than big-name actors pretending to be musicians.

However the real star of this film is the music. The  songs are heartfelt, melancholy, and moving. In fact, Hansard and Irglová won an Oscar for best original song, “Falling Slowly:”

Worth a look if you like touching, realistic romances or achingly beautiful music.

Skip it if musicals are not your thing.

Click on the following link to place a hold:

Once

-Steve