Rye Lane Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
A romantic comedy, unlike anything seen before. This British feature is intelligent, truthful & unapologetic. A much-needed refreshment for the stale genre!
Genre: Comedy / Drama / Romance
Director: Raine Allen-Miller
Cast: David Jonsson, Vivian Oparah, Karene Peter, Malcolm Atobrah, Benjamin Sarpong-Broni, Simon Manyonda, Poppy Allen-Quarmby, Omari Douglas & Alice Hewkin.
Run Time: 82 min.
US Release: 31 March 2023 (Hulu)
UK Release: 17 March 2023
German Release: 31 March 2023 (Star on Disney+)
Streaming catch-up the second; with so much content being dumped on Netflix and co., one can quickly lose sight of little gems like this one. It is then that I like to thank my fellow reviewers for their recommendations because otherwise, I might have never stumbled upon Raine Allen-Miller’s feature directorial debut Rye Lane, to be found on the Disney+ content hub Star. Not only is this one of the most innovative romantic comedies, it is actually one of the sweetest feel-good flicks I have seen in a long time! So put on your sneakers and walk with me through my review!
Yas encounters Dom by chance on a gender-neutral toilet, at an art exhibition organised by a mutual friend, in South London. The two connect over their recent break-ups, spending an eventful day getting to know each other.
Not only is this the director’s feature-length film, it also is actor Nathan Bryon’s first script for a movie, co-written with Tom Melia. Originally meant to be set in North London’s Camden, Allen-Miller changed the locations to Brixton plus Peckham to obtain more originality. It is also a very artistic picture, without the aesthetics overwhelming the plot.
The screenplay, though straightforward, does manage to touch upon many interesting perspectives of life, while also being short enough to make the story move forward with a steady flow. The solid pacing, however, is mostly reached through the unstoppable, infectious energy of the premise, which is displayed in every facet of this production. To put it in a nutshell, this is one of the better elaborated, incredibly intelligent feel-good films, tackling the romantic genre from an unusual angle.
Writer Nathan Bryon managed to create a hilarious script that isn’t outright comedy. The humour feels realistic, created out of necessity, as both personas share some deep, private details. The narrative contains an incredible joy for life, opposing the rather bleak topic of break-ups. That contrast is created on purpose, as the message of this little Brit-flick is to inspire people; because even in our darkest days, there will be some purpose to keep moving forward. The setting gives the overall picture unique nuances that enhance the story.
Most of the funny moments are a combination of dialogue plus visual aid. The conversations are smart, tackling social issues as well as moral matters. Representing Peckham in its truest form, it makes use of different accents, with the sweet Londoner inflexion dominating.
Rye Lane makes use of a wide variety of different side characters. From shop owners, restaurant staff, deli owners, family or even friends. However, its main focus lies on the two leads, as well as Peckham as a living, breathing, district of South London.
David Jonsson, who has been cast as Dom, gives an absolute precious rendition of this young male adult, unafraid of showing real emotions, as his heart has been shattered by his recent breakup. Dom is depressed, just like hung up on his ex, not seeing the positive outcome of it. He is insecure, generous, overly polite, and as such people abuse his goodwill. Those positive attributes surface, as he is ready to help out a complete stranger.
This contrasts with Yas’ point of view on life, played by a brilliant Vivian Oparah. She is full of energy, also very sweet, ready to help those who seem to be in need. However, she chose to cut those loose who simply want to abuse her goodwill. Yet behind that wall of positiveness, lies also a soul that is afraid to get hurt again. The chemistry between both lead actors is off the charts. It is the back-and-forth between them that carries this movie!
The camera work by DP Olan Collardy is fantastic! The sub-topic of art is well implemented into his cinematographic style, yet never comes off as pretentious. Paired with the interesting chemistry between the two leads, Collardy’s use of smooth fish-eyed lenses, unusual camera swerves plus pans, just like a very creative style of blending reality with imagination through inserting cuts, makes for an entertaining experience! The imagery is surrealistically romantic!
The setting is not simply an ode to South London, specifically the district of Peckham and Rye Lane after which the movie is titled. South London is filmed as a living, breathing character of its own, with all the people and different cultures. The wardrobe represents a modern, eccentric, 21st-century style of fashion that is very colourful. Speaking about the different tint’s, the picture takes in the strong colourful surroundings of Peckham, as well as Brixton, turning the background into a moving vernissage for audiences.
The soundtrack was created by British music producer Kwes, adding to the quirkiness of the premise and accentuating its flavourful variety.
Verdict: Raine Allen-Miller’s directorial debut, is not the typical cookie-cutter rom-com that is as of late served on many streaming platforms. In fact, contrary to the many sub-par flicks of this genre that are being produced en masse, this is a refreshing, intelligent, feel-good narrative that never feels too gooey or pointlessly comedic. While easily straightforward, the plot has a deeper story with a valuable message for its audience. No matter how dreary a moment can seem, life is still full of light and joy. It is what we make of it that is important. The main theme is enveloped in a sub-premise of artistry, which can be found again in its cinematography. The colourful imagery is infused by the culture of the setting, which is treated as a character itself. The editing is creative, the use of lenses is curious. The music underlines all the subjects it encompasses. Finally, there are the two leads, giving magnificent performances, having impeccable chemistry with each other. Rye Lane is absolutely worth watching and deserves an 8.5 out of 10.
Have you already seen this British romantic comedy? What did you think? Do you agree with my review? Leave a comment in the section below & thank you for the continued support.