'Rye Lane' Review: Two People Connect Unexpectedly In South London
Love is truly in the air when you're using gender-neutral bathrooms, at least according to director Raine Allen-Miller's feature debut Rye Lane which is a romantic dramedy set in South London's neighbourhoods. Written by Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia, the film introduces us to Dom (David Jonsson), a 20-something young man crying in that aforementioned bathroom at his friend's art exhibition where he first meets an aspiring costume assistant named Yas (Vivian Oparah). Dom has recently broken up with his long-time girlfriend Gia (Karene Peter) who cheated on him with his best mate Eric (Benjamin Sarpong-Broni). When meeting up with them, Dom is joined by Yas who pretends to be his new girlfriend, leading them to spend more time together which would maybe turn their pretending into something real.
Allen-Miller is obviously working with the script's initial boy-meets-girl premise and all your usual story beats that come with it but she also manages to clearly bring a lot of her own charm and stylistic choices to shake up that formula during the film's brisk 80-minute runtime. A crucial factor helping that vision come to life is the combined effort of her two leads, Jonsson and Oparah, who not only seem perfectly cast (by Kharmel Cochrane) for their respective roles but are also able to create chemistry that just sizzles on the screen while balancing delightful comedic moments with equally effective dramatic acting when called upon.
Something that was occasionally distracting from seeing those performances pop was Olan Collardy's cinematography and how Allen-Miller then ends up using those frames. I admittedly spent a lot of time wondering what the intended effect was with their particular lens choices and compositions, eventually not finding any deeper reasoning behind them but at least it all does manage to capture Cynthia Lawrence-John's stylish costumes that are utilising plenty of intense colours. They are always telling us about Dom and Yas individually but also show that two of them share some of the same vision in terms of how they want to present themselves when they're out and about.
That energy and sincerity is possibly why Dom and Yas are drawn to each other at the end of the day which makes their blossoming romance feel pure. And sure, Rye Lane get slightly cheesy when it's time to wrap things up for these characters but at that point you might just as well follow your heart and not your cynicism.
Smileys: Acting, costume design
Frowneys: Minor issues with cinematography
Embrace the wave.