Jackie & Ryan's recession-era credentials, lamenting as it does about how the country "is having it hard".
This may well be the case, but Jackie and Ryan are both to differing degrees tourists. Ryan's struggles are similarly ho-hum. He'd like a new guitar and he feels shy about playing a new song he's writing. To drum up some much needed sentiment, Mann invents an elderly mentor Cowboy who we never see, solely for the purpose of strategically killing him later on to give something for the rest of the characters to emote on. And yet there's something glossily attractive about the whole thing. Mann has a nice sense of place, with the frosty Utah landscapes and the rail yards and roadways of America given a nice Indy feel romanticism, and the music is pleasant enough without ever overly taxing the memory banks.
The musical subtext of the film is riven with clichés but, like the covers that Ryan plays, they're well-enough executed even if it's quickly clear that Heigl isn't as much a singing discovery as the film seems to think she is. Her one show-piece song is a duet with her daughter, who does her best to back up her mother's lame baritone. When Ryan gets his big chance in the recording studio there's an MTV Unplugged meets The Real World feel to proceedings, but he's a likable presence and it feels unfair after all those miles to hit him too hard. Despite its manifold flaws, Jackie & Ryan is still oddly watchable, even if its presence in a sidebar designed to promote innovation feels somewhat off-key.
The 71st Venice Film Festival takes place from 27 August to 6 September 2014. For more coverage, follow this link.