If Rye Lane is any kind of indicator to the level of British cinema we’re going to be getting this year, then it’s going to be cracking.
WRITTEN BY ALEX GILSTON / JANUARY 30, 2023
With so much stellar British talent on show at this year's edition of Sundance Film Festival - Charlotte Regan’s Grand Jury Prize winning Scrapper, and Nida Manzoor’s electric feature debut Polite Society being just two examples - statistically there was going to be a miss somewhere? Insert Rye Lane a, joyous, conversational Rom-Com and a hole-in-one directorial debut from Raine Allen-Miller which proves that statistics don’t mean a thing.
Dom (David Jonson) is at a local art gallery supporting his friend's new installation. But with his recent break-up fresh on his mind he finds himself crying in the toilets. That’s when he bumps into Yas (Vivian Oparah) who’s also going through a break-up of her own. The two end up setting out on a day of escapades and righting some wrongs along the way. Chance meeting, eventful day, Rom-Coms are a tried and tested formula at this point. Before Sunrise probably being one of the more famous examples. Rye Lane takes that formula and lays it out in a magical way. Following Dom and Yas telling each other stories - in which we are thrust into their overactive and colourful imaginations - is an absolute treat. There’s a minimal feel when they’re just bouncing off each other walking through the streets of South London, it’s intimate and is where some of Rye Lane’s most golden moments occur. Things escalate in the final act as the two of them go on a heist for a vinyl record that means a lot to Yas. It’s during this time you might expect things to go off the rails, but Rye Lane keeps its heart on it’s sleeve leading to the loveliest, most satisfying, conclusion.
Rye Lane is filled with brilliant performances - and even a surprise or two as well - all round. David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah give soul bearing performances, fit with some wicked wit too. A film like Rye Lane lives and dies on the chemistry of its central characters but Jonsson and Oparah hit a sweet spot which makes their blossoming romance believable. The supporting cast who the pair bump into throughout are the cherry on top of the well decorated cake. Especially Omari Douglas who steals the scene as Mona, a friend of Yas’s who they go to for information.
Rye Lane is full of quippy British goodness, the emotional core is never sacrificed purely for comic moments though, which just adds to its strength. If Rye Lane is any kind of indicator to the level of British cinema we’re going to be getting this year, then it’s going to be cracking.