Plot via IMDB:
Two youngsters reeling from bad breakups who connect over an eventful day in South-London.
Rye Lane, streaming now on Hulu, is a romantic comedy that succeeds by breaking all the rules of the genre and dating. Don’t spend the date talking about your exes is the big one, especially if you want a second one. Yet, Rye Lane is all about about two people, Dom (David Jonsson) and Yas (Vivian Oparah), talking about their exes, commiserating with each other over the things gone wrong and right, meeting their new bf/gf, getting petty revenge, even breaking into the exes apartment to get their sentimental items back. They prove how right they are for the new other person in their life by proving how bad their ex was in comparison. It shouldn’t work but it does.
Confidence and chutzpah are the two things needed to winningly pull this off. It’s a combination tough to find in seasoned directors, much less a first time one like Raine Allen-Miller. Look at the slate of formulaic romcoms Netflix routinely churns out to see what a rare quality this is both personality and genre wise.
But then Rye Lane is a homecoming for Miller, a love letter to the South London neighborhoods of Peckham and Brixton she grew up in, for which Rye Lane is just the dividing line. Familiarity leads to specificity, which lends to authenticity. Getting the background details right lends the idea that a real world romance is developing. Not a love among the ruins, but love in the midst of gentrification. This is the black version of Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy films were two characters fall in love while walking and their way through a neighborhood.
Miller keeps the pace fast and hip, and appropriately neon surreally comically nightmarish in the flashback sequences. The difference between memory places and the same places revisited again later on in the present adds a candy colored counterbalance.
Yas is a want to be film costume and set designer. The slight surreality doesn’t akimbo- just gives the idea that in some ways that Yas is wish fulfilling her ideal romcom into being. Adding to this: the fisheye camera that follows them in the street scenes, oddly costumed extras walking in and out, and the eye popping set designs. She’s living in the details of the movie about herself. Colin Firth even makes a cameo appearance as a grouchy taco truck owner.
Rye Lane is a tight 82 minutes. It seems to take place over a day and night, but since it unravels over several dreamlike bursts, it could be a couple of days. The editing doesn’t seem to want to have Dom and Yas live within defined time. Just outside it. They can’t move together until they finally move on from their exes. When they do, Miller gives the two the romantic comedy we and they want.
Rye Lane gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.
- Nathan Bryon
- Tom Melia
- Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo
- Damian Jones
- 23 January 2023(Sundance)
- 17 March 2023(United Kingdom)
- 31 March 2023(United States)
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