Rye Lane

Directed By Raine Allen-Miller

Starring – David Jonsson, Vivian Oparah, Poppy Allen-Quarmby

The Plot – Two youngsters (Jonsson, Oparah) reeling from bad breakups who connect over an eventful day in South-London.

Rated R for adult language, some sexual content and nudity

RYE LANE | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures – YouTube

POSITIVES

Attempting a unique angle to the tirelessly timultuous cliches of the romantic comedy genre is certainly no easy feat, but Raine Allen-Miller’s invigorating approach to “Rye Lane” is one that is full of vibrancy for personality, effortlessly permeating a pulse of humanity splashed across every canvas that succeeds it as one of the best films I’ve truly ever seen from the genre. On stylistic presentation alone, it’s alluring, with not only an anamorphic format in cinematography, which continuously frames our protagonists at the center of many environmentally immersive sequences, as well as splashes of spell-binding color in every transfixing shot, that prescribes no shortage of bountiful beauty or pungent personality to the scenery of this intimately documented London neighborhood. Each shot conveys consciousness in the persistent unraveling of the surrounding people in the backgrounds, without ever being downright distracting, and when combined with picture perfect framing that grows all the more inclusive within the two leads as their evolving relationship takes shape, cements influences in everybody from Spike Lee to Gaspar Noe, but with the kind of refreshing expressionism that takes it to the next level. Aside from the impeccable direction, the script written from Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia meets her halfway, with a richly humanistic approach to characters and situations that help to transcend the fictional enveloping that continuously reminds audiences that they’re watching a movie, instead of living, breathing entities sharing a meaningful day with one another. Because of such, Dom and Yas are given an ample amount of backstory and motivation to the dynamic of their apparent chemistry, in turn supplanting a perfect dynamic between them in which one garners what the other lacks in terms of fears or transparancy. This leaves it effortlessly easy to engage in their characters or blossoming romance, all the while seamlessly balancing the elements of romance and humor within the tone that many of these films live or occasionally die on, and in the case of pacing within a measely 77 minute run time, gives us plenty of excitement and anticipation in spades throughout the fly-by pacing of life taking shape before ours and their very eyes. The value of the performances also can’t be appreciated enough, with Jonssan and Oparah breaking onto the scene with a duo of turns that effectively garners the warmth of bond developing between them with each passing moment. Oparah’s Yas is certainly the frequent decorated scene-stealer, with intensity and fearlessness that make her character a delight to deconstruct anyone in her opposition, but Jonsson is certainly no slouch either, commanding Dom with a lovesick longing and underlining adventurous spirit that truly bring to life the innocence of his character, all without feeling meandering or prying heavily on the emphasis of the direction of the character. There’s also an awesome blink-and-you-might-miss-it cameo from one of England’s most decorated actors, and considering the film is unlike anything that he has ever attempted, I’m curious to even hear how those negotiations went. Finally, while I previously mentioned the pacing is perfect inside of its 77 minute run time, the one-day framing for most of this movie’s story never felt condensed or confined creatively by the restrictions of its small scale, instead taking us on a wild ride of the bigger pictures within these respective characters with regards to hopes, failures and desires that have molded them into the people we come to understand before us. The outline of the film does bear a striking resemblance to Richard Linklater’s masterpiece “Before Sunset”, but only in concept alone, deviating itself by molding a mission between its leads that isn’t just about killing time, but more about the depths that each of us are willing to explore for the people who heal our hearts, with many pleasantly meandering conversations between them to fuel the proverbial fire.

NEGATIVES

Even with so much positivity working to its benefit, “Rye Lane” isn’t without the occasional compromising effort that keeps it from attaining that elusive perfect score. The first is definitely with the appearances of a few of those pesky cliches from romantic comedies that still arrive in the timely fashions that we’ve come to expect, primarily the third act break-up of its characters, which here is believable but essentially unnecessary when you consider that these characters have only known each other for a single solitary day. It was refreshing that the script eludes this aspect midway through the film, leaving me thinking that we could have a contemporary romance that isn’t marred by such obviousness, but instead saved it for the final ten minutes of the movie, which only feels like a precursor to the last minute actions between the characters (Primarily with tourists) that I easily saw coming from one of the lines of dialogue from Yas early on that nearly spelled out its predictability. Beyond this, my only other problem with the film pertained to the sound designs of some first act sequences, where character dialogue is obscured in the confines of the boisterously loud European Hip Hop tracks that otherwise pleasantly adorn the movie’s soundtrack. This element isn’t a problem in scenes in and around the neighborhood, as they naturally influence the engagement with a consciousness needed to flesh the setting out as a living, breathing entity, but when it pertains to off-screen influence with controlled sound levels, it leaves already thick accents with even more audible adversity, and the kind that I needed subtitles to sometimes properly distinguish.

OVERALL
“Rye Lane” isn’t your every day romantic comedy, but rather a humbling slice of humanity that permeates enough spell-binding style and personality to Raine Allen-Miller’s decorated debut. With enough laughs, character layers and R-rated expressionism, there’s certainly something for everyone, and while the occasional cliche momentarily conflicts the appreciated simplicity of its script, the heavy lifting from Jonsson and Oparah keep it grounded inside of this neighborhood with so much refreshing color behind every corner, and not just in the dazzling backdrops.

My Grade: 9/10 or A

2 thoughts on “Rye Lane

  1. YES! I’m so happy that you not only got a chance to watch this one but also review. Even if you hadn’t mentioned how proud you were of this review, I felt it in every work of your passionate analysis! It’s so refreshing to see a romantic comedy with so much style, energy, and personality which definitely comes from both the performances and the direction. Aside from the few pesky clich├ęs you mentioned, this is definitely in my top 5 of the year so far and it sounds like it is for you as well! Magnificent work, one of your best reviews of the year!

  2. Well that is now two romantic movies that I will have to keep in my back pocket for date nights. Thank you for the review and the time and effort you put in to keep us all informed.

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