Was it fate or merely happenstance? Regardless, after bumping into each other a few times, Yas and Dom were destined to embark on an adventure together. In Raine Allen-Miller’s Rye Lane, love, loss, and new possibilities are explored in this delightfully British romantic comedy.
Yas (Vivian Oparah) and Dom (David Jonsson) have experienced recent break-ups. Dom is planning to have his first in person meeting with his ex post-break-up. And making the upcoming reunion more tenuous, Dom’s ex will be there with her new partner, the man she cheated on Dom with. Meanwhile, Yas is on a journey to retrieve her A Tribe Called Quest record from her ex-boyfriend’s home. The pair support each other as they navigate their respective escapades.
It is their adventures – or rather misadventures – that make the film so endearing. Whether it is Dom listening to “If You’re Not the One” by Daniel Bedingfield at a barbecue as he tries to distract the party while Yas rampages through a house or Yas playing back-up when Dom has to attend the confrontational meal with his ex, Rye Lane manages to mix heart and humor. Oparah and Jonsson are mesmerizing together. Both are charming and vulnerable. They allow their characters to feel like fully realized people as the audience merely gets a glimpse at this moment in their lives.
What sets Rye Lane apart from many rom-coms is its ability to blend reality and fantasy. When you fall in love, it can feel like an out-of-body experience. Director Raine Allen-Miller manages to capture the surrealism of falling in love while also allowing the film to feel grounded in truth. From the Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia-penned script, we get to see two people rediscover themselves and their ability to love. The cinematography from Olan Collardy impeccably frames our characters. Allen-Miller chose to shoot key scenes using a fisheye lens. The crispness of Collard’s cinematography and the lens used give the film a particularly entrancing dream-like quality. There are times when it feels almost like a fairytale.
Much like When Harry Met Sally, the setting is another important character. From Rye Lane Market to Rockwell Park to Peckhamplex, we see a vibrant and beautiful South London. It truly is a celebration of the Black community of South London. How rare it is that we get the opportunity to fall in love with South London and the people who make it so special. Just as Dom and Yas begin to fall in love, the audience cannot help but be enchanted by the splendor of their setting.
Coming in at a quick 82-minute runtime, Rye Lane is a perfect rom-com, even for the most cynical. Even with the catalyst of sadness post-breakups, Rye Lane is filled with joy and warmth from start to finish. With two leads who will captivate you from start the finish, you are certain to leave the film having fallen in love with this outstanding directorial debut.
Should be Considered: Lead Actor (David Jonsson), Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Director
Where to Watch: Hulu
Lives on the East Coast aka Where Writers Live in the Woods
Favorite Director: Lynn Shelton
Favorite Moment in Pop Culture History: On The Hills, someone tried explaining what the Large Hadron Collider does to Audrina Patridge and her response was, “This is crazy how all this is happening while Lauren is gone.”
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