Movie Review: Jackie & Ryan hopes the folkie romance formula will work more than Once

The Irish indie musical Once obviously had an effect on American audiences and, perhaps more so, American filmmakers. In the years since its 2007 release, several movies have attempted to retell the story of two good-hearted people bonding, and maybe falling in love, over music made with acoustic guitars (this list includes director John Carney’s own Once follow-up, Begin Again). Ami Canaan Mann’s Jackie & Ryan belongs to this subgenre, with the American West playing the part claimed in the past by Dublin or sections of New York. The Utah setting is its primary novelty.

Like the hero of Once, Ryan (Ben Barnes) is a busker with faint dreams of doing something bigger; unlike anyone in Once (or Begin Again or Song One), he is also a genuine rail-riding hobo, albeit of the handsome, polite, and fairly well-connected variety. As the movie begins, he’s hopping a train …

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