Rye Lane | Picturehouse Recommends

You know when a romcom hits Cupid’s target, because it makes you fall back in love with love. Rye Lane does that with a hip, heartfelt ode to London’s infinite variety.

Larushka Ivan-Zadeh

17 Mar 23

Raine Allen-Miller

Release Date
17 March

Vivian Oparah, David Jonsson


Running Time
82 mins

We are soooo over the romcom. it's finished. it's done. It's a stale, pale, 20th century hangover of a genre that's slumped into irrelevance and we're moving on. Oops – spoke too soon.

Because just as we're metaphorically deleting the romcom from our phones, along comes Rye Lane to make us fall for its charms all over again – as if for the very first time.

It starts, as romcoms must, with the meet-cute. Dom (David Jonsson, Gus in TV's Industry) is in a public loo, ugly-crying over his recent break-up, when Yas (Vivian Oparah, from Doctor Who spin-off Class) hears his sobs. She's just had her heart smashed too. They start to chat.

It's instantly clear that they're nothing alike. Yas is a loud, spontaneous costume designer (love that lemon/leopard-print outfit), Dom is a cautious, conflict-avoidant accountant.

Yet dissecting their mutual romantic tragedies somehow leads these mismatched 20-somethings out from a groovy art gallery, still chatting, through the streets of South London.

A weepy Dom is en route to meet his ex, who cheated on him with his best friend. Yas decides to crash their lunch, posing as Dom's hot new hook-up. Just for fun, obviously, because it's not like Dom and Yas would ever get together...

The classic romcom formula remains the heart of this witty, self-aware script co-written by multi-hyphenate Benidorm actor Nathan Bryon and his long-term collaborator Tom Melia.

Yet what makes it most notably skip, hop and sing to a different beat is the bold, fresh energy of breakthrough director Raine Allen-Miller.

It was her idea to move the action from North to South London and, as Rye Lane's title tells you up front, to shine a light on the multitudinous glories of Peckham.

Set over one funny, fast-paced day, the free-wheeling story's events are entwined with the vibe of this fabulously vibrant community: the pubs, the playgrounds, the markets, the clubs, the cinemas (our very own Ritzy Picturehouse makes a cameo), but also the non-tourist sights: the real homes and real locations all teeming with genuine multicultural interest.

It's so authentic you almost feel like you're there, sipping a Coke, with Dom and Yas.

Whereas so many "urban" films are miserabilist and gritty, this one pops with colour. Every feel-good frame is a palette radiating emerald green, electric pink, peacock blue and more.

The style is to die for and Allen-Miller has a terrific time playing around with a whirlwind of close-ups and flashbacks and other impressively assured cinematic high-jinkery. This is a debut director with a vision.

None of that, however, would amount to a hill of beans if the lead actors didn't win you over.

A romcom lives and dies on that central chemistry. Blessedly, Oparah and Jonsson are fizzing with the stuff.

These two rising stars share an easy on- and off-screen rapport that makes their buzzy banter zing and their modern-day dating experiences feel all too relatable.

You know when a romcom hits Cupid's target, because it makes you fall back in love with love.

Rye Lane does that with a hip, heartfelt ode to London's infinite variety.   Larushka Ivan-Zadeh

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