Yas and Dom, two twenty-somethings both reeling from bad break-ups, connect over the course of an eventful day in South London -- helping each other deal with their nightmare exes, and potentially restoring their faith in romance.
David Jonsson, Vivian Oparah, Poppy Allen-Quarmby, Simon Manyonda, Karene Peter, Colin Firth
Rye Lane is just a delight. A modern romcom with so much charm and creativity that even the clichés feel unique regardless. I’ll get my only slight nitpicks out of the way first so I can focus on the positives for longer, because there are much more than those.
For an 82 minute-long film, there are a few moments here and there where it drags; they don’t last long whatsoever, but there are times where I wanted it to pick up just slightly more. The film has been compared to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset (the first two films in Richard Linklater’s nothing short of brilliant romance trilogy) and that’s a fair comparison, but the effortlessly investing dialogue and pacing of those films are lacking here which makes the comparison feel unfair. Again, this is more of a nitpick and it doesn’t drag the movie down too much, but it does affect it slightly.
Then there are the clichés still to be found, but as a fan of the romantic comedy and this film’s electrifying directing they’re hardly an issue—I feel the same for the occasional joke that doesn’t quite land.
Now for the positives, which Rye Lane is absolutely brimming with from top to bottom. Purely to balance out a criticism, the film’s sense of humour is mostly hilarious, with plenty of laugh out loud jokes and tidbits of golden dialogue scattered throughout. Colin Firth’s all-time best comedic cameo, Dom’s playlist and, “If you make the hummus, you get the head” were three of my favourite light hearted moments in the film and are astonishingly memorable.
Jonsson and Oparah are fantastic as the leads and genuinely stand out due to their singularly charming performances that nail the comedic and romantic timing, but also their admirably watchable chemistry with one another at the same time. Even when the humour falters at times, their delivery saves all of it and makes it more than worth it. Its soundtrack is also very fitting for the tone and has some memorable songs that really help elevate certain sequences—particularly in yet another stand out scene involving karaoke. Plenty of the more important, emotional beats land effectively, too, and make for such a feel good film by the time it’s over, whilst still being honest and emotional when its required.
The best element of this film, however, has to be Allen-Miller’s otherworldly directing, the most elevating, interesting, and unique aspect of the entire thing. Shooting with wide angle lenses, multiple long takes, and a nice sense of colour and vibrance across different locations that all thrive. There’s so much style on display here: well and truly the cherry on top of this wonderful film.